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Moving Munster to start of year could ‘probably’ work – Clifford

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by Adam Moynihan

Kerry captain David Clifford has indicated that he could get on board with a potential reshuffle that would see the Munster Championship being moved to the start of the season.

Speaking to this writer at Croke Park for the launch of SuperValu’s sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, Clifford acknowledged the historical value of the provincial competition while also suggesting that he would be open to change.

“You’re well aware of the importance of it (the Munster championship). Look, there’s a lot of history there and stuff like that. But should it be moved to a different time of the year? It’d probably be hard to have an issue with [that].

"You’re still keeping the competition and then you’re still having those games, so I don’t think when it’s played in the year is as important really.”

Clifford and his teammates beat Division 4-bound Tipperary by 20 points in last Saturday’s Munster semi-final. In Leinster, Dublin defeated Laois by 26. One-sided mismatches like these have led to more and more calls for the provincial championships to lose their traditional standing as important precursors to the All-Ireland series.

Radical plans to do exactly that, while also moving the National League closer to the All-Ireland series and effectively promoting it to championship status, failed to garner enough support at the last GAA Congress in 2021. Instead, the league was joined up to the All-Ireland series as a seeding mechanism only, with the four provincial championships retaining their pre-All-Ireland series billing.

Would the Footballer of the Year be in favour of going the whole way and giving the Munster Championship less relevance when it comes to the serious business of summertime football?

“Possibly, yeah. If it was something like: you played a Munster Championship and then maybe some sort of a league that had a bearing on championship… Yeah, I think that’s probably something that could work.”

Last weekend’s blowout win was frustrating at times for Kerry as they came up against a packed defence that seemed content with keeping the score down. Encountering such set-ups is not uncommon in the modern game but Clifford, who was limited to just two points (both from frees), is philosophical about the challenge this presents.

“That’s the reality now so there isn’t much point in us thinking back to football in the past where it was more open. I actually think it’s very enjoyable to try and find ways of breaking down defences and maybe seeing the different approaches you can take. At the end of the day, if we’re winning, that’s all that matters really.

"So I wouldn’t say it’s that much less enjoyable.”

Despite only turning 24 in January, Clifford has already worked his way into the ‘greatest of all time’ discussion with a string of mesmeric performances including an unforgettable display in last year’s All-Ireland final, when he kicked eight points.

But the Fossa native, who is a PE teacher in St Brendan’s College, is keeping his feet on the ground.

“You try and brush it off as much as possible. There’s nothing really to be gained from getting involved in a conversation like that.

"People are going to say what they’re going to say. You can’t really control that.

"But I suppose I try not to let it have an effect [on me].”

Listen to Adam’s full interview with David Clifford on ‘The Kerry Football Podcast.

Also available on YouTube.

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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