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Munster Final Preview: In-form Kerry should be too strong for Cork

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Munster SFC Final

Kerry v Cork

Sunday at 4pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

Live on RTÉ 2

Killarney. July. Munster final weekend. The sun is blazing. The town is buzzing. What more could you ask for?

Well, a ticket would be a start. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the capacity for Sunday’s Munster final, the first provincial showpiece in the Fitzgerald Stadium since 2017, is capped at 2,500. That means that upwards of 35,500 would-be spectators will instead hang around the town and watch it there. Which is… safer?

I suppose after a tough year and bit we should count our blessings; the fact that a couple of thousand fans will be left in is better than nothing. And, let’s not forget, Kerry didn’t even reach the Munster final last year.

Compared to 2020, this truly is a time of plenty.

LINE-UP

Peter Keane showed his hand on Friday night and the only change to his matchday squad is on the bench, where Tony Brosnan replaces his Dr Crokes clubmate David Shaw at No. 26.

Other than that, Kerry are set to line out just as they did in their easy victory over Tipperary a fortnight ago, although three players will have different numbers on their backs this time around. Micheál Burns (10), Stephen O'Brien (12) and Paul Geaney (14) have all reverted to their preferred geansaís for the team's biggest match of the year to date.

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy will name his team at 9pm tonight.

PREDICTION

Kerry will naturally be wary of Cork after what happened in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last November and in Seán Powter, Ian Maguire, Ruairí Deane and Luke Connolly, their old rivals have players who can hurt them.

But the reality is that the hosts are looking strong at the moment, far stronger than they did going into the last encounter, and they should be beating a team who have arguably dropped below Clare in Munster football's pecking order.

Rebel supporters will no doubt draw comfort from the fact that they overcame similar odds last year. They are facing a far more potent Kerry outfit tomorrow, however, and when you also take into account their own patchy form, and their dismal record in Killarney, it becomes almost impossible to see how Cork can cause an upset.

From Kerry's perspective, anything other than a fairly straightforward victory would be troubling.

VERDICT: Kerry by nine.

Kerry team to face Cork

1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)

2. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht)

3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)

4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Mike Breen (Beaufort)

6. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe)

7. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)

8. David Moran (Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s)

9. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil)

10. Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes)

11. Seán O’Shea (Kenmare Shamrocks)

12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks)

13. David Clifford (Fossa)

14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)

15. Paudie Clifford (Fossa)

Subs: Fitzgibbon, A Spillane, Morley, Murphy, K Spillane, Walsh, Barry, G O'Sullivan, Sherwood, Kilkenny, Brosnan.

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Tobin hails Spa teammates following ‘fairytale’ final

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by Adam Moynihan

Spa have been desperate to win Kerry’s Intermediate Club Championship, and earn promotion back to senior level, since 2010 when they were demoted at the first time of asking following their Intermediate final victory the year before.

With the other clubs in the parish (Dr Crokes and the Killarney Legion) operating at senior, and with a strong batch of young players coming through in recent years, returning to the top table as quickly as possible has been the club’s primary target. They came close on a number of occasions in the intervening years, losing three finals between 2012 and 2015.

They finally managed to reach the mountain top on Sunday last and there was one remarkable link between 2009 and their latest triumph. Cian Tobin’s last full season with Spa was in 2009. He then emigrated to London and later Abu Dhabi, before returning to Killarney this year and linking up with his club.

Tobin played a key role for Spa as they broke their hoodoo by defeating Beaufort in last Sunday’s decider at the Fitzgerald Stadium. The skilful corner forward bagged 3-1 in the 4-18 to 1-19 win, a tally which earned him the sponsor’s Man of the Match award.

As far as comebacks go, this one is fairly special. However, amidst all the celebrations, the fact that Tobin missed out on a decade of hard graft and tough losses has not been lost on his colleagues.

“The lads have been giving me an awful slagging this week,” the 30-year-old says with a smile. “They’ve been saying, ‘you are so jammy, you’ve been away for years and you come back and we win it straight away!’

“I missed a lot of the hard work in those winter months. I was joking with them that I was doing the warm weather training for the last 10 years while they were up in Spa in the rain.

“To be fair, I found it easy to fit in when I came back because the young fellas and the management team are outstanding to work with it.”

GOALS

Beaufort, who are relative newcomers to intermediate having won the Junior Premier Championship in 2018, gave as good as they got in the first half of Sunday’s final, but Tobin’s opening goal in the 25th minute came at just the right time for Spa.

“I thought Beaufort were excellent,” Tobin reflects. “I went with Shane Cronin to watch their semi-final (versus Na Gaeil) and I was very impressed. Some of their kicking the last day was outstanding too. There was great forward play. Liam Carey got a point that was an absolutely scandalous score.

“It was tight in the first half until the first goal came. It just fell to me in the right position. I got lucky. Until then it was very close.”

Goals two and three followed in the second half. They were neatly tucked away by Spa’s No. 15, but, to his mind, the credit goes to his teammates for teeing him up.

“Shane Cronin is a machine when he gets going, he’s very hard to stop. He put [the second goal] on a plate for me. I didn’t really have much to do again. But yeah, once that went in there was a bit of daylight. In all our matches we have been pushing on in that third quarter, and that’s when we kind of pulled away again on Sunday.

“The third one was a great turnover by Ciarán Spillane and, again, he put it on a plate for me. It was one of them days… I know someone has to score them but the work was done out the field really.”

Guided by the management team of Ivor Flynn, Kieran Herlihy, Brian Gleeson, Neily Kerins and Arthur Fitzgerald, Spa powered to an eight-point win. Does the manner of their performance perhaps underline the fact that they deserve a crack at senior?

“I think so,” Tobin nods. “Everyone from No. 5 up, bar one, scored. That’s a massive spread of scorers. And then we have the full back line of Brian Lynch, Shane Lynch and Eoin Fitzgerald… In years past maybe we would have had a few weaker spots in the team but I think we’re strong all over the field now.”

INTRODUCTION

The effect COVID-19 has had on the 2020 and 2021 GAA calendars means that the 2020 Intermediate champs now have a rapid turnaround ahead of their long-awaited senior bow. First up is a group phase match against their neighbours and fierce rivals, Dr Crokes, on Sunday.

“Nice introduction, isn’t it?!” Tobin jokes. “That’s where you want to be, though. Playing in those kinds of games in the Fitzgerald Stadium against the club kingpins in Kerry. Now that we’re there, hopefully we can do ourselves justice.

“It means a lot [to be a senior club]. We thought ourselves that we deserved to be there, and we’ve put in the work to be there, we just haven’t always got the rub of the green in recent years. It felt like, ‘are we ever going to get over the line?’

“The feeling at the final whistle on Sunday was just relief more than anything, I think, because we’ve been there so many times.

“Maybe not so much me because I’ve been away, but I think it was three finals we lost, and we lost some close games against Templenoe recently. We always thought we were good enough to get over the line but we just hadn’t been doing it.

“To be honest, it was fairytale stuff for me.”

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Late drama at exciting Celtic Golf Classic

The last team out at the Killarney Celtic Golf Classic carded 106 points to overtake all who went before at an entertaining fundraiser staged over two days at the pristine Beaufort Golf Club. From Friday to late Saturday afternoon, the imposing tally of 101 points registered by the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group team of James […]

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The last team out at the Killarney Celtic Golf Classic carded 106 points to overtake all who went before at an entertaining fundraiser staged over two days at the pristine Beaufort Golf Club.

From Friday to late Saturday afternoon, the imposing tally of 101 points registered by the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group team of James McCarthy, Brian McCarthy, Cian Harte and Gavin Murray looked like being a winning one. The got a scare when the Spa GAA team almost caught them; Seánie Kelliher, Donal Cronin, John Cahill and Seán Devane ultimately carded a great score of 100 points to go second.

With the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group quartet hanging on for victory, it was all down to Kissane Meats and Pat O’Neill, John England, Tony Sugrue and Donie Brosnan snatched first place by hitting a weekend high of 106 points.

The Nearest to the Pin was won by Aaron Jones of the Dawn Meats team while the Longest Drive came from the club of Mark O’Shea who was representing Tom Meehan’s team.

Speaking at the prizegiving, Killarney Celtic Vice Chairman Paul Sherry thanked all involved for contributing to another hugely successful fundraising day for the club.

“Killarney Celtic is indebted to its members who volunteered over the two days,” he said, “to those who sponsored the prizes, entered teams, took signs, provided the fruit and chocolate and of course, most importantly, played on Friday and Saturday.
“We also must thank the staff at Beaufort, both working on the course and those in the clubhouse.

“A sign of a good golf classic is the number of returning teams and sponsors and already a number have committed to join us again in August/September 2022.”

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