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Okunbor, Murphy, O’Donoghue and Roche among nine additions to Jack’s Army

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Jack O’Connor has added nine new faces to his extended Kerry senior football squad ahead of the 2022 season, which is scheduled to get underway at the end of January.

The Dromid native replaced Peter Keane as Kerry manager in October and as expected he has set about moulding his own team which he hopes will be capable of challenging for next year’s All-Ireland. The Kingdom were unexpectedly beaten by Tyrone in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final and it has now been seven years, going on eight, since Sam Maguire resided in Kerry.

O’Connor will be under pressure to deliver immediate results and after keeping a close eye on the recent Club and County Championships, he has called in a number of promising reinforcements.

Stefan Okunbor is perhaps the most high-profile of these call-ups. After spending three years in the AFL with Geelong, Okunbor returned to Ireland in September and wasted no time getting back into the swing of things with his club, Na Gaeil, and his divisional side, St Brendan’s. The former Kerry minor and U20 star can play in a variety of positions and his skillset and athleticism has led many supporters to suggest that he could be a potential starter.

Okunbor’s call-up is not just significant in purely sporting terms. The son of a Nigerian father and a Moldovan mother, the 23-year-old Tralee man could become the first person of colour to represent the Kerry senior footballers.

MURPHY

Dr Crokes goalkeeper Shane Murphy has been recalled to the fold, three years after falling out of favour under previous manager Peter Keane. Murphy made his debut for Kerry in 2018 after impressing for the Crokes in their 2017 All-Ireland and County Championship triumphs but was subsequently dropped by Eamonn Fitzmaurice during the Super 8s.

Keane opted to play Shane Ryan in goal for the duration of his three-year term with Brian Kelly providing back up in 2019 and 2020. Kelly subsequently retired and Kenmare’s Kieran Fitzgibbon was drafted in. When Ryan got injured at the start of the 2021 campaign, Fitzgibbon was promoted to starter with goalkeeping coach and former No. 1 Brendan Kealy briefly filling in as back-up keeper.

Murphy is an expert kicker and his reintroduction to the panel comes as little surprise. He is currently recovering from a concussion he sustained during the county semi-final against Kerins O’Rahillys but he is expected to be back in action some time in the New Year.

Fellow Killarney man Dan O’Donoghue of Spa has also been added to the squad following a string of impressive seasons with his club and also in the red and white of East Kerry. The composed centre back captained his district to County Championship glory in 2019 and 2020 before playing a key role in Spa’s intermediate final victory earlier this year.

O’Donoghue’s former East Kerry teammate Darragh Roche will join him back in Currans. The Glenflesk sharpshooter has caught they eye time and again in recent championships; most recently he kicked 0-13 and picked up the Man of the Match award in his club’s defeat to Spa in the O’Donoghue Cup semi-final.

STACKS CONTINGENT

Austin Stacks claimed their 13th Kerry SFC title two weeks ago and three of their players have been rewarded with call-ups to the Kerry team. Full back and captain Dylan Casey, energetic corner back Jack O’Shea and imperious midfielder Greg Horan have all been added to Jack O’Connor’s new-look roster.

The Kerry championship’s top scorer, Jack Savage of Kerins O’Rahillys, has been brought back in having previously lined out under Eamonn Fitzmaurice, and Andrew Barry of Na Gaeil (brother of Jack) is also back in the camp. The commanding No. 6, who last featured for Kerry in 2018, was excellent for St Brendan’s on their run to the Kerry SFC semi-final.

Meanwhile, Firies veteran Jack Sherwood has reportedly stepped away from the fold, following Tommy Walsh into intercounty retirement.

Kerry get their 2022 season up and running with an away game against O’Connor’s former team, Kildare, on Sunday, January 30.

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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