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Sem star McMahon expecting tough semi-final challenge

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by Eamonn Fitzgerald

Yellow belly, yellow belly, yup yup yup. Who’s going to win the Munster cup?

Former students of the Sem will recall that war cry of years ago spurring on their classmates to win the Corn Uí Mhuirí. I’m sure the cohort of present students perched high on the terrace behind the town goal at the Fitzgerald Stadium for the recent Munster final have a modern rap version of this war cry. They were so encouraging and entertaining as St Brendan’s proved too good for age-old rivals Tralee CBS.

That support and humorous banter will be needed again tomorrow at… Well, I’m not sure of the venue or the throw-in time for the All-Ireland colleges semi-final. That has not been finalised as this column goes to bed.

St Brendans will meet St Mary’s of Magherafelt and the prize at stake is a place in the final and the coveted prize of the Hogan Cup for the outright winners. St Jarlath’s will meet Naas CBS in the other semi.

St Mary’s has a student enrolment of just over 1,000, but that huge pick will not frighten the Sem supporters. St Mary’s is a co-ed school with roughly 500 male students, whereas the Sem has a bigger base to choose from with up to 800 students.

Two weeks ago, St Brendan’s accounted for the Green on a 0-17 to 0-12 scoreline, but I felt that the local college were more superior than the five-point margin suggests. Will Shine was in sparkling form, scoring nine points.

MCMAHON

Earlier this week I spoke with Cian McMahon, the captain of the St Brendan’s team. First I put it to him that while they were well on top in the Munster final, they were well tested on the way to the final.

“We were, and we really only scraped home against Coláiste na Sceilge,” McMahon said. “That was a blessing in disguise because you need tough, close games to test you out if you want to win anything. That match in particular stood to us.”

McMahon is only still only 18 but he has for some time been one of the most promising underage players in the county. A former Kerry minor, he was awarded the U17 Young Munster Player of the Year, before COVID restrictions closed down games. He has already played senior with his club, Dr Crokes and he is also a member of Declan O’Sullivan’s Kerry U20 team. This modest, talented forward underplayed his achievements to date.

“This team is all about supporting each other. In the game against the Green, Will (Shine) was brilliant, but so many others played very well in support. You need everyone to play their part.”

McMahon realises that he, in particular, is going to be a marked man in tomorrow’s semi-final.

“Yerrah, we will have to deal with that. The rest of the lads will play their part. It all depends how we set up because we know how the northern teams get so many players behind the ball in a packed defence. Gavin White has been a brilliant help in that respect; he has to deal with that when Kerry play the northern teams.”

You need look no further than last Sunday’s Kerry versus Donegal league game at the Park. In the first quarter Donegal were quite happy to step back from any Kerry attack up to midfield, pack the defence, pass the ball laterally and hold possession, tippy-tappy, across the field. Early on I noted that in one passage of play they kept that ball for almost four minutes without a Kerry hand getting near it.

“We will have to deal with that style of play,” McMahon continued, “but we have a very solid team and if we push on for scores we can make it to the final. We need to focus for the full 60 minutes and keep the scoreboard ticking over. There is no one way to win; every game is different.”

GOOD PLAYERS

Apart from McMahon, St Mary’s will face many good players such as Will Shine, Harry Byrne, David Fleming, Dara O’Callaghan, Leo Randles, Kevin O’Sullivan, Cian Foley and Alex Hennigan, their youngest player and the only one of the probable starting 15 who is underage for this years’ Kerry minors.

The bench is very important in the modern game so Kevin Cronin will be hoping to have some of the injured players who were unavailable for the Munster final fit for action tomorrow.

Best of luck to the Sem and their management team of Kevin Cronin, Brian O’Mahony, Gavin White, John C O’Shea, Dr Gary Stack and also helping out Beaufort’s Garry McGrath, who has managed so many Sem teams over the years. And not forgetting Vince Cooper, the man who knows every young player in Kerry from his day job.

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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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