East Kerry Championship: Final
Killarney Legion v Dr Crokes
Sunday at 2.15pm
Losing to your fiercest rivals is never a pleasant experience but the outcome of Sunday’s Killarney derby, an O’Donoghue Cup final no less, will be particularly excruciating for either Legion or the Crokes.
The fact of the matter is that neither of these sides have achieved what they set out achieve in 2019. Though they have sampled contrasting levels of success in recent years, both Legion and Crokes started out in January expecting to win. Competitions have come and gone, however, and so too have opportunities to pick up silverware. For Stephen Stack and Edmund O’Sullivan, this weekend’s East Kerry Championship final could be a season-defining moment.
Unfortunately for this undeniably talented Legion team, that coveted piece of silverware remains as elusive as ever. My clubmates won’t thank me for bringing it up but it’s now 25 years since that Club Championship victory over Waterville, the club’s last triumph of note at senior level. This will be Legion’s fifth O’Donoghue Cup final since 2013 (sixth including the 2014 replay) but, remarkably, you have to go all the way back to 1976 for the club’s last win at district level.
It would mean an awful lot to this current crop of players to get over the line this time out. And for manager Stephen Stack, the next 60 minutes of football will make all the difference when it comes to grading his first year in charge. It might seem harsh but that’s the nature of the beast, and no one will be more acutely aware of that than Stack himself.
If Legion can upset the odds and beat the Crokes, the rather limp County Championship exit at the hands of St Brendan’s will be a distant memory.
For a generation of Crokes players and supporters, winning is all they’ve known.
The club’s senior team have won at least one major trophy (i.e. County Championship, Club Championship, O’Donoghue Cup, Division 1 of the County League, Munster Club or All-Ireland Club) in each of the past 16 seasons, an incredible run that has seen them capture no fewer than 40 titles.
Now, unexpectedly, Crokes stand on the brink of their first trophyless season since 2003.
The All-Ireland, Club Championship and County Championship finalists will be favourites to beat the Legion – they have done so twice already this season – but it’s certainly an uncomfortable position to find themselves in.
Legion’s preparations have been hindered by injuries to some key players, perhaps most notably two of their Kerry panelists, James O’Donoghue and Danny Sheahan. O’Donoghue picked up the sponsor’s Man of the Match award in last weekend’s semi-final against Gneeveguilla despite being forced off midway through the second half with a lower leg injury. The former Footballer of the Year appeared to be in some distress and you don’t need me to tell you that he would be a huge loss if he’s unavailable for the final.
Sheahan, meanwhile, has had surgery on a shoulder problem so he will not be available. The tough-tackling full back, who was called up to Peter Keane’s extended panel during the 2019 season, is another big loss for Legion as he would be the natural choice to pick up Crokes’ top scorer, Tony Brosnan.
Team captain Pádraig Lucey missed the semi-final but he is expected to make his return on Sunday.
Jonathan Lyne and Podge O’Connor have been in really good form of late and bainisteoir Stack will need to get serious performances from them, and from everyone else, if his side are to bridge that 25-year gap.
For their part, Dr Crokes had to make do without experienced defenders Fionn Fitzgerald and David O’Leary for their semi-final while David Shaw and Jordan Kiely remain longer-term casualties. They still had quite a strong line-up for that victory over Spa, however, with the front eight of Johnny Buckley, Daithí Casey, Micheál Burns, Gavin O’Shea, Brian Looney, Tony Brosnan, Mark O’Shea and Kieran O’Leary looking particularly imposing.
Burns kicked five points in a Man-of-the-Match display while the younger O’Shea cousin, Mark, chipped in with 1-1 from full forward. Tony Brosnan added 1-4, a relatively low return by his extremely high standards.
Normally the O’Donoghue Cup is an added bonus for the Crokes but considering the way the year has gone so far, Sunday’s final takes on far greater significance.
Motivation will be at an all-time high because, in truth, the only way 2019 could get any worse for them is if they lose to Legion in the O’Donoghue Cup final.
That’s the difference here: victory for Legion would make their year, defeat for Crokes would break theirs.
The Crokes, who are gunning for their 13th East Kerry Championship since the turn of the century, are favourites. There’s no denying that. Legion will be hoping that three final defeats in seven months has had an adverse affect on the old enemy’s confidence but they’ll need everyone at it on the day regardless. If one or two key players are unavailable, it obviously makes things more difficult.
One thing’s for sure: it won’t be one for the faint of heart.
Rebel lights delight for Killarney star
By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]
By Con Dennehy
The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.
Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.
Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.
In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.
“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.
A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.
Survey reveals Kerry fans’ expectations for 2023
A start-of-season survey carried out by the Killarney Advertiser has revealed Kerry supporters’ expectations ahead of the 2023 campaign, which gets underway on Sunday with a league match against Donegal.
Kerry enjoyed a perfect year in 2022 as Jack O’Connor led his team to glory in the National League, Munster Championship and All-Ireland Championship. It would be an incredible achievement to replicate that success again this time around, but some supporters seem to think that it can be done.
Around 73% of those polled believe that Kerry will reach another All-Ireland final, with the majority (42%) predicting that Sam Maguire will be staying in the Kingdom for another year at least. Just under a quarter of respondents (23%) think that Kerry will fall at the semi-final stage, however, with the remainder (4%) anticipating a quarter-final or round robin exit.
1. How far will Kerry go in the championship?
All-Ireland round robin – 1%
All-Ireland quarter-final – 3%
All-Ireland semi-final – 23%
All-Ireland final (runners-up) – 31%
All-Ireland final (winners) – 42%
That’s what supporters expect to happen, but what would they be happy with? When asked what would constitute a “good year” for Kerry in 2023, 54% stated that only an All-Ireland will do. A further 32% said they would be content with another All-Ireland final appearance. So, effectively, the vast majority of Kerry supporters (86%) won’t be happy unless their team at least makes it to the All-Ireland final on July 30.
2. Kerry need to ___________ for 2023 to be classed as a “good” year.
Reach the All-Ireland round robin stage – 1%
Reach the All-Ireland quarter-final – 3%
Reach the All-Ireland semi-final – 10%
Reach the All-Ireland final – 32%
Win the All-Ireland final – 54%
Neighbours Cork gave Kerry a real hiding in the McGrath Cup at the beginning of this month but it appears as though fans from this side of the county bounds are placing little stock in that particular result. Over 96% of supporters expect Kerry to win their provincial championship. A very small minority (3%) are fearing the worst, i.e. Cork winning Munster.
3. Who will win the Munster Championship?
Kerry – 96%
Cork – 3%
Someone else – 1%
Expectations are lower for the immediate future, however. With several players out injured and others – including star player David Clifford – being rested, most fans reckon Kerry will finish mid-table in Division 1 of the National League. Over half of the readers who responded to our survey (52%) think Kerry will finish 3rd or 4th in the eight-team pool, with roughly one-in-five expecting a 5th or 6th place finish.
Despite the lengthy list of absentees, 21% of supporters are still optimistic that Kerry can retain their Division 1 title. At the other end of the scale, around 1% think Kerry will be relegated.
4. Where will Kerry finish in Division 1 of the National League?
1st or 2nd (winners) – 21%
1st or 2nd (runners-up) – 8%
3rd or 4th – 52%
5th or 6th – 18%
7th or 8th (relegated) – 1%
When asked which opponent they are most wary of heading into the new season, the vast majority of Kerry fans singled out the same Division 2 team.
5. Which opposition team should Kerry be most worried about in 2023?
Dublin – 78%
Tyrone – 7%
Armagh – 6%
Cork – 3%
Derry – 3%
Mayo – 2%
Galway – 1%
Jack O’Connor’s side travel to Ballybofey on Sunday for their first competitive outing of the season. Throw-in is at 2pm with the match being televised live on TG4.
Follow @AdamMoynihan for all the latest Kerry GAA news
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