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Lakers and Cougars take positives from defeats

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Killarney’s two Men’s National League teams suffered opening round defeats last weekend but both sides can take plenty of positives from their first outings of the 2021/22 season.

The Scotts Lakers had a tricky first day at the office as they travelled to Limerick to take on the Celtics. Thanks in part to the offensive prowess of newcomers Emilian Grudov, Rui Saravia and Ben Miller and the defensive efforts of local lads Mark O’Shea and Paul Clarke, the visitors appeared to be in control of proceedings heading into the fourth quarter. Jarlath Lee’s team led by 86 points to 79 and a valuable road win was on the cards.

Credit to the hosts, however, who put together a remarkable 18-0 run to completely turn the game on its head. With Andre Wolford (who finished with 51 points) to the fore, the Celtics seized control and although the Lakers fought back admirably, they just about came up short. The final score at Munchin’s College was Limerick Celtics 111-104 Scotts Lakers.

Encouragingly, the Lakers’ imports all made an impression on the scoring charts with Grudov (31 points), Miller (30) and Saravia (12) combining for 70% of the team’s points total. Youngster Jamie O’Sullivan also made his mark by chipping in with an impressive tally of 18.

Next up for the Lakers is another away match, this time in Cork against Fr Mathews. Tip-off on Saturday is at 7.30pm.

In cup news, the Lakers have been drawn to play the Portlaoise Panthers at home over the October Bank Holiday weekend (October 23/24). This will be the team’s first home game of the season.

Lakers fans can now buy their season tickets with a ‘single’ costing €50. A ‘patron’ option (two adults) is available for €100, which includes a mention in the gameday programmes. The ‘family’ season ticket (two adults and two under 16s) is €120. This entitles fans to entry to every home league and cup game. Visit the St Paul’s Killarney Facebook page for details on how you can get your hands on these tickets through Eventbrite. Alternatively, you can contact any club officer.

COUGARS

In what was their first ever game in the National League, newcomers Killarney Cougars came up against a strong UCC Demons outfit in the Pres Gym. The Cougars started well and threes by Conor Flynn and Con O’Mahony contributed to an early 14-11 lead. The Demons have been tipped as title contenders, however, and they showed their considerable class thereafter, with Tala Fam Thiam in particular standing out.

The away team led by 45-30 at the half but a strong third quarter which included threes by Flynn, Justin Tuason and Mark O’Shea helped cut the deficit to just five.

But Demons regrouped and reassumed control thereafter, eventually running out 87-59 winners.

Next weekend the Cougars travel to Limerick to tackle the UL Eagles with a home game against the Portlaoise Panthers on October 23.

ST MARY’S

Team Garvey’s St Mary’s (Castleisland) were no match for hosts Glanmire when the sides met in the first round of the Women’s Super League on Friday last. It was always expected to be a tough challenge for the visitors considering Glanmire’s many years of experience at this level and the Cork women had a huge first quarter, hitting 28 points to Team Garvey’s 13.

Team Garvey’s Le’Jzea Davidson sustained an ankle injury in the early part of the game but to her credit managed to keep going. However, she went over on the same ankle in the dying stages. Glanmire continued to excel as the game progressed leaving the final score at 112-41 in favour of the Cork team. Killarney native Rheanne O’Shea chipped in with six points for St Mary’s.

The Kerry team’s next game is on Saturday against Fr Mathews. Tip-off in Castleisland Community Centre is at 6.30pm.

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Kingdom hoping to lay some old ghosts to rest at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

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by Adam Moynihan

All-Ireland SFC Group 1

Cork v Kerry

Saturday at 3pm

Páirc Uí Chaoimh

I was one of the unlucky few to have been present at the last Cork-Kerry clash in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in November of 2020. It was a truly awful night.

The match was played behind closed doors which made for an eerie, unsettling atmosphere, and the rain came down harder than I ever remember seeing first-hand.

Unfortunately, Kerry came down hard too. Mark Keane’s last-ditch goal clinched an unexpected victory for the hosts and, just like that, Kerry’s year was over.

It always hurts when your team loses but that one completely floored us all. It was such a horrible way to lose a game and I felt so bad for the players as they trudged off the field, soaked to the bone and shaken to the core.

They got some form of payback the following year when they won by 21 in the Munster final, and again last year when they ran out 11-point winners in the semi-final. But something tells me that it would mean a lot more to return to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and do the business there.

It won’t be easy. The final scorelines in the last two games suggest that it was all one-way traffic but that simply wasn’t the case. In 2021, Cork led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the water break (remember those?) and they pushed Kerry hard 12 months ago too. There was nothing in that match right up until the 50th minute, at which point Kerry brought on David Moran and Paul Geaney and ultimately pulled away.

You can never really read too much into the McGrath Cup but Cork demolished Kerry in January. Their form since has been spotty but they did well to see off Louth last week, with the returning Brian Hurley (shoulder) kicking eight points in a two-point win. Hurley has proved to be a handful for Kerry full back Jason Foley in the past.

Significantly, John Cleary’s side are strong in a key area where Kerry struggled against Mayo: midfield. Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan scored 0-2 each in Navan (and the latter scored 2-4 in that aforementioned McGrath Cup game at the start of the year).

Jack O’Connor named his team last night with Adrian Spillane replacing Tony Brosnan and Paul Murphy coming in for Dylan Casey. Spillane will add some extra brawn and energy around the middle third. Going by the last outing, Kerry need it.

It is also worth noting that David Clifford has never really shot the lights out against Cork. He has been well minded by Maurice Shanley, Seán Meehan and Kevin Flahive in the past three championship meetings, with the retreating Seán Powter also getting stuck in when needed.

Flahive suffered a cruciate injury late in last year’s game but he could potentially be in line for a comeback tomorrow; he has been added to Cork’s 26 for the first time in over 12 months.

Meehan has been ruled out with a hamstring injury so Shanley may be asked to track the Footballer of the Year this time around.

Clifford was one of the few bright sparks against Mayo and he would love to bring that form to the Páirc on Saturday. With vital points on the line, there would be no better time to lay some ghosts to rest.

From a Kerry perspective, you would hope – and perhaps expect – that Clifford and his teammates can do exactly that and get the show back on the road.

KERRY TEAM

1. Shane Ryan

2. Graham O’Sullivan

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O’Sullivan

5. Paul Murphy

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White

8. Diarmuid O’Connor

9. Jack Barry

10. Dara Moynihan

11. Seánie O’Shea

12. Adrian Spillane

13. Paudie Clifford

14. David Clifford

15. Paul Geaney

Subs: S Murphy, T Brosnan, D Casey, BD O’Sullivan, R Murphy, M Burns, M Breen, S O’Brien, D O’Sullivan, C O’Donoghue, S O’Brien.

CORK TEAM

1. Micheál Aodh Martin

2. Maurice Shanley

3. Rory Maguire

4. Kevin O’Donovan

5. Luke Fahy

6. Daniel O’Mahony

7. Matty Taylor

8. Colm O’Callaghan

9. Ian Maguire

10. Brian O’Driscoll

11. Ruairí Deane

12. Killian O’Hanlon

13. Seán Powter

14. Brian Hurley

15. Chris Óg Jones

Subs: P Doyle, C Kiely, T Clancy, K Flahive, P Walsh, E McSweeney, B Murphy, J O’Rourke , M Cronin, S Sherlock, F Herlihy.

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Is Killarney green or blue? Celtic and Athletic to face off in tonight’s league final

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Kerry Premier A League Final

Killarney Celtic v Killarney Athletic

Tonight at 7.45pm

Mounthawk Park, Tralee

Killarney Celtic will be gunning for their fifth league title in a row tonight (Friday) when they take on crosstown rivals Killarney Athletic in Tralee.

Celtic have been the dominant force in Kerry soccer in recent times with Athletic playing second fiddle. This will be the third Premier A final in a row to be contested by the Killarney clubs; Celtic won the 2020 decider 4-0 and last year’s final ended in a 3-0 victory for the club from Derreen. (The 2020/21 season was scrapped due to the pandemic.)

Prior to that, Celtic defeated Castleisland in 2019 and Dingle Bay Rovers in 2018, both on a scoreline of 1-0.

Celtic and Athletic also met in the 2017 final. The Blues prevailed in that particular encounter to capture their first ever Premier A title.

As for this season, Neilus Hayes’ Hoops qualified for the final by virtue of their first-place finish in the Premier A. Despite losing key players – including attackers Ryan Kelliher, Stephen McCarthy and Trpimir Vrljicak – to the Kerry FC project, the Celts won 12 of their 14 matches and ended up with an imposing goal difference of +34.

Athletic were not far behind, however; Stuart Templeman’s team only lost one league game all season en route to 35 points – one behind Celtic and 11 clear of Castleisland in third.

Interestingly, both of Celtic’s losses came at the hands of Athletic. The Woodlawn outfit impressively beat the old enemy 3-2 and 0-1 over the course of the regular season.

Goals by Roko Rujevcan, Pedja Glumcevic and a 90th-minute winner by Brendan Moloney clinched that dramatic 3-2 win in October of last year. It was a result that signalled Athletic’s intentions for the rest of the season.

Rujevcan was also on the scoresheet when Athletic snatched a rare away win at Celtic Park on April 30.

Celtic’s imposing record in finals probably makes them slight favourites and in the likes of John McDonagh, Brendan Falvey, Wayne Sparling, Kevin O’Sullivan and Witness Odirile they have a potent mix of steel and skill.

But Athletic will take heart from their recent results in this fixture and they will be hoping that two of the stars from the 2017 team – Shane Doolan and Shane Lynch – can lead the current crop of players to glory.

Meanwhile, the Division 2B final between Killarney Athletic B and Atletico Ardfert that was also due to take place tonight has been cancelled. Athletic have received a walkover.

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