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New Beaufort course for Road Race Championships

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Killarney Cycling Club will host the county’s biggest one day cycling event next Thursday evening.

The Kerry Road Race Championships will take place on a new 15km course near Beaufort on August 22.

The honour of hosting the annual Kerry Road Race Championships is divided amongst the biggest clubs in the county. Tralee Manor West Cycling Club, Currow Cycling Club and Killorglin Cycling Club all take turns at organising the event on a four-year rotation system and this year the opportunity to stage the race falls to the local Killarney club.

One of the favourites for the County Championship is local rider Conor Kissane. The Barleymount-based rider, the current county hillclimb champion, narrowly missed out on the county road racing league title last week.

The final round of the series took place in Tralee on Thursday, August 8. Kissane needed to finish in front his main rival, Tralee Manor West’s Cathal Moynihan, but tactical riding by the Tralee club kept Kissane out of the top six and handed the league to Moynihan.

County league races are run on a handicap system where the elite A1 and A2 category riders start three minutes behind A3 riders and six minutes behind the A4 competitors.

Killarney Cycling Club’s Marcus Treacy (A3) won the Tralee event. Crucially, two other Tralee Manor West riders, Ross Culloty and Owen Moriarty, both A3 riders, took second and third overall meaning Moynihan and Treacy finished on equal points but the championship was decided in the Tralee man’s favour as he had two wins over the season compared to Treacy’s solitary victory.

Kissane finished in the A1 bunch and ended up third in the standings.

“There were five riders in our group,” Kissane told the Killarney Advertiser. “Two from the Tralee club, including Cathal, and three from the Killarney club. There was no way the Tralee riders were going to share the workload to close the gap. There’s nothing sour in these tactics, it’s just the way cycling works. They knew I had to win the race to take the championship.”

Kissane will be hoping to make amends in the County Championships in less than a week’s time. It will be his first time competing as an A1 rider at the same time his home club is the host.

The championship race also runs on a handicap system but each group is only separated by 30 seconds for this event.

“They [organisers] look at the league events as a training race for us and always make us work that little bit harder,” Kissane added. “The Killarney club will working together [in the County Championships] and I would hope there will be a Killarney winner at the end of the day.”

Riders that could scupper Kissane and his Killarney Cycling Club colleagues include Moynihan and his Tralee Manor West clubmate Cormac Daly.

Killorglin’s Mike O’Shea, a winner of a round of the cycling league this season, is another dark horse. He is capable of breaking away from the main bunch and launching a solo bid for success.

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Killarney rugby girls remain undefeated

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U16 Munster League

Killarney 30 Dolphin/Midleton/Youghal 5

Aghadoe

Last weekend a combined Dolphin/Midleton/Youghal side travelled to Killarney for the last U16 league game in the conference.

Played in cold and windy conditions, the Killarney girls started like they meant business. The girls played some terrific running rugby and ran in some very impressive scores. Killarney ran the ball at every opportunity and only kicked from hand once in the entire game.

Leading 20-0 at half-time, the girls kept on scoring in the second half. They conceded a late try to the gallant Cork side, who in fairness kept asking serious questions of the Killarney defence. Some of the Killarney girls tackling was very impressive, led by Player of the Match Ava O’Malley whose tackle count was in the teens. She was supported by Clodagh Foley, Melissa McCarthy, Fia Whelan and Bronagh Dorrian.

Any time the Cork side did penetrate the Killarney defensive wall, fullback Marina Eager dealt with it and counter-attacked very well from all areas of the field.

The defensive play of the day came in the last five minutes when birthday girl Fia Whelan wrestled possession from one of the Cork girls’ hands and put in a superbly timed pass to the onrushing winger Niamh Dorrian, who finished off the try very impressively. It was the last score of the game.

Two of our new recruits made their debuts, namely Gráinne Kennedy and Lucy O’Sullivan. Both girls are relatively new to the game but they made significant contributions and are great additions to the growing squad.

By topping their conference, the girls are now into the semi-finals of Munster. In true rugby fashion, both teams shared a warm cup of hot chocolate and some treats after the game, hosted by the wonderful parents of the Killarney girls led by team manager Anne Gabbett. Many more of the parents were, as always, on hand to support the girls and the club.

To top off a great day, the team then visited the fantastic facilities of the newly opened Reboot Recovery Suite for some richly deserved recovery, team bonding, and of course some pizza.

If you think your daughter may enjoy rugby, training for U14s, U16s and U18s takes place in Aghadoe every Wednesday between 6.45pm and 8.15pm evening. New members always welcome. Give Anne a call on 086 3125722.

KILLARNEY RFC: Annie O’Reilly, Ella Guerin-Crowley, Molly Gabbett, Joanne O’Keefe, Melissa McCarthy, Katie O’Donoghue, Clodagh Foley, Ava O’Malley, Robyn Landers, Fia Whelan (captain), Ali O’Donoghue, Bronagh Dorrian, Holly O’Sullivan, Niamh Dorrian, Marina Eager, Miriam O’Sullivan, Grainne Kennedy, Isabella O’Leary, Kate Mangan, Lucy O’Sullivan, Jess O’Sullivan.

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Killarney buzzing for once-in-a-lifetime Crokes v Legion showdown

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by Adam Moynihan

Kerry Senior Club Relegation Playoff

Killarney Legion v Dr Crokes

December 5 at 12 noon

Fitzgerald Stadium

It’s county final weekend. Tralee is awash with blue and black and amber. Stack Park will be packed to the rafters for Sunday’s decider between Kerins O’Rahillys and Austin Stacks as two fierce rivals meet in one of the biggest games the county’s capital has witnessed in decades. Based on what we have seen from both teams in this year’s championship, it promises to be a fascinating encounter.

But as far as Killarney folk are concerned, that’s all small potatoes. Forget about Rahillys-Stacks. Forget about Covid. Forget about Christmas. There is only one topic up for discussion this week: Legion versus Crokes in the relegation playoff.

Barring a draw (which will result in a replay) one of the town’s biggest clubs will lose their senior status at lunchtime on Sunday.

For Legion, demotion would be a major disappointment. Ever since a talented crop of players that included James O’Donoghue, Jonathan Lyne, Brian Kelly and Podge O’Connor came of age, the Derreen outfit have harboured dreams of winning Kerry football’s top prize: the County Championship.

They came within inches of glory under Peter Keane in 2015, falling to South Kerry after extra time in a replay. Although they haven’t reached a final since, that dream is still there. Relegation would be a significant step in the wrong direction.

For Crokes, dropping down to intermediate is perhaps even more unthinkable. The team from Lewis Road are one of the traditional powerhouses of Kerry football and, after various stints with the now-defunct Dick Fitzgeralds and a combined Killarney selection, they have been out on their own in the senior championship since the 1980s.

The 13-time champions were All-Ireland finalists as recently as 2019. If they were to be relegated now, two-and-a-half years after gracing Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, it would surely constitute one of the biggest shocks in the history of Kerry football.

Blessed as Crokes are with intercounty calibre players like Gavin White, Micheál Burns, Shane Murphy, Tony Brosnan and David Shaw, not to mention decorated veterans like John Payne, Mike Moloney, Johnny Buckley, Daithí Casey, Brian Looney and Kieran O’Leary, relegation is the last thing they would have expected.

OPTIMISTIC

Some of the more optimistic observers in our community have suggested that Legion and Crokes have too much about them and whatever happens this weekend, they will come straight back up to senior by virtue of winning the 2022 Intermediate Club Championship. The record books suggest that this is far easier said than done. Of the last 10 clubs to have been relegated, only Kilcummin have managed to return to senior. And they have since been relegated again.

Finuge, Currow, St Michael’s-Foilmore, Laune Rangers, Ardfert, Milltown-Castlemaine, An Ghaeltacht and Rathmore have thus far failed to regain their senior status.

In fact, more relegated clubs have been relegated again than have been promoted back to the top table. St Michael’s-Foilmore are now operating in the Junior Premier (third tier), as are Ardfert and Currow who meet in a relegation playoff on Saturday. The losers will join Finuge, another former senior club, in the Junior Championship (fourth tier) in 2022.

On paper, Legion or Crokes would be the strongest team in next year’s intermediate, but it is clearly not an easy competition to win. Just ask Spa.

There is also the small matter of next year’s County Championship. Becoming an intermediate club will make either team’s players eligible to line out for the 2018 and 2019 champions, East Kerry. Although they fell at the first hurdle this time around, the argument has been made that East Kerry already have too many clubs. Adding Legion or Crokes would unquestionably strengthen their hand further still.

That’s if the footballers in question make themselves available. Ever since Crokes “qualified” for this playoff and the idea of them joining East Kerry first entered people’s minds, some fans have wondered aloud if Crokes’ players would be comfortable pulling on the colours of East Kerry when as recently as two years ago the sides were facing off in a county final.

It’s just idle gossip at this point but it might be something to keep an eye on, particularly if Crokes are defeated.

SPARED?

It is perhaps unsurprising that talk has already turned to championship structures and the opinion that there are not enough senior clubs in Kerry is currently being bandied about. Former GAA President Seán Kelly suggested on Twitter this week that there should be “at least 12”. If the number of senior clubs were to be increased for 2022, it would spare the losers of Sunday’s playoff the ignominy of being relegated at all.

While such speculation will be of comfort to Legion and Crokes supporters, who are no doubt experiencing quite a bit of discomfort at present, the reason this debate is cropping up now is fairly transparent. There may well be valid arguments for increasing the number of senior clubs, but the likes of Rathmore, Kilcummin and An Ghaeltacht will be wondering where all this commotion was when it was their necks on the line.

For the time being at least we must work off the assumption that there will be no change in the number of senior clubs next year and that one of Legion or Crokes are going down. If there is a change, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

FATE

Whoever is defeated on Sunday will lose face as all relegated teams do, but added to the mix is the fact that it will be their greatest, most hated enemies who will seal their fate.

It truly is a once in a generation game – maybe even once in a lifetime – and rain, hail or shine it is sure to draw a huge crowd to Killarney’s Theatre of Dreams. So much is at stake and emotions will be running so high that flash points are almost inevitable. Certainly on the pitch, and maybe even off it.

It might be enjoyable for the neutral (it’s safe to assume that Killarney’s third team, Spa, are not too upset about the current situation) but it is shaping up to be a match that the rest of us will have to endure rather than enjoy.

Only one club can survive. For the other, the unimaginable is about to become a reality.

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