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Templenoe to test Crokes in last eight

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Former Dr Crokes and Kerry goalkeeper Eamonn Fitzgerald previews all four of this weekend’s Kerry SFC quarter-final ties.

“It will be great weekend of football and some close ties. Some games may go to extra-time and shudder the thought that any game will be decided on a penalty shoot-out, the last resort. There must be a final result to each game on the day. Which team has been practising penalties?”

That was the final paragraph in last week’s preview of Round 1 of the Kerry SFC. That was the fate of Spa on Saturday last. Legion beat their local rivals 5-4 on penalties after a very well contested local derby.

Champions East Kerry’s bid for their third title in a row came unstuck in Tralee as Stacks prevailed in a very low scoring affair (1-7 to 1-5). That scoreline would indicate a very close affair. It was, for a brief few moments near the end. But East Kerry were never in this game. A late 1-1 flattered them in a match that Stacks dominated from start to finish.

Elsewhere, a winning scoreline of 0-13 to 1-3 appears one-sided, but it took Crokes a long time to assert superiority. They won well without playing well against a very limited opposition in West Kerry. Crokes are building a new team giving senior championship debuts to Mark Cooper, David Naughton and Evan Looney. They were in from the start and can be well satisfied with their debuts.

QUARTER-FINALS

So, what of the next round? With just a week since they last played, the team managers will be hoping that any injuries sustained will be cleared up for this weekend’s fixtures.

Legion v St Brendan’s (Sat 7pm, Austin Stack Park)

This is a tough one for the Legion, a club team meeting a district board team. St Brendan’s did well to get over the fancied Kenmare Shamrocks in Round 1.

Dominance at midfield will be crucial in this game, where the Kerry and Na Gaeil stars Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry will be expected to exert superiority. Which big men will Legion play there to avert that dominance?

If Legion do well here, they will expect Conor Keane, James O’Donoghue and Jamie O’Sullivan to tack on those winning scores. O’Donoghue went off injured so Legion will be hoping he has recovered. They will also look to Jonathan Lyne, Brian Kelly, Billy McGuire, Rob Leen, Chris Davies and Darragh Lyne to stifle St Brendan’s.

Dingle v Kerins O’Rahillys (Sat 5pm, Austin Stack Park)

This looks to have the makings of the best of the weekend’s matches. Both teams came through the last round in style.

Former Kerry star Tommy Walsh was excellent against St Kieran’s, winning so much possession and scoring six points in total. Was his retirement from intercounty football premature?

Dingle impressed me in Tralee. Powered by no fewer than five Geaneys - they aren’t all brothers - they had a right battle with Mid Kerry, the beaten finalists from last year. Right corner forward Conor Geaney scored the match-winning goal in the very last minute when extra time seemed certain. One must allow for the bad weather, but even so a final tally of 1-7 to 0-8 was a disappointing score. Mid Kerry missed two great goal opportunities. After 20 minutes, Cathal Moriarty’s penalty shot hit the woodwork and went over for a point instead of the expected goal.

Later, Seán O’Brien was clear through on his own, but a superb save by Gavin Curran denied him the goal they needed. Conor Geaney’s superb finish was the difference. Kerry colleagues Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney set up this winning score. The latter sent in a speculative shot that was misjudged by the Mid Kerry rearguard and Conor fetched a great ball before using the ciotóg to crash the ball low past Seán Coffey. The injured Gavan O’Grady did not start for Mid Kerry and his scoring potential was missed. After the Geaney goal he pointed a free.

Templenoe v Dr Crokes (Sunday 12.45pm, Fitzgerald Stadium)

Templenoe are backboned by their four Kerry senior players and when these two teams met in the Club Championship, Templenoe shocked the Crokes with a five-point win. Two early Templenoe goals rocked the Crokes that day and they were chasing the game (unsuccessfully) thereafter.

Templenoe learned nothing against a woefully weak Shannon Rangers team and will be without Killian Spillane this season. That will blunt their scoring power, but it will take a step-up in performance by Crokes to overturn the result of their last encounter in Templenoe.

It will be interesting to see if Crokes will take Gavin White out of his customary centre back position to partner Johnny Buckley at midfield, releasing the towering Mark O’Shea to number 14 where he would be expected to revel in high fielding.

Austin Stacks v South Kerry (Sunday 2.45pm, Fitzgerald Stadium)

Stacks are the bookies favourites not alone to win this game but also to do the Club and County Championship double. They have a very good, disciplined defence, rarely committing fouls, and hey break at speed. Even their full back line add on the points. Their midfield is strong, but the forwards are wasteful. Still, they will have enough to outscore South Kerry.

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Kerry Camogie vow to back players in shorts/skorts controversy

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by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry County Board will back their players if they decide to defy the rulebook and wear shorts after officials at the Camogie Association’s National Congress voted to keep the controversial skort.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry Camogie chairperson Ann Marie Russell confirmed that she is fully behind the players, the vast majority of whom want the skort to be binned.

“I know there have been calls for a protest, that they would all go out the first weekend of the championship and wear shorts,” Russell said. “If the players felt that was something they wanted to do, Kerry Camogie would absolutely support them.

“It should be up to the people who it affects. It doesn’t matter to me what the players wear or what they look like. They should be comfortable.”

The punishment for not wearing the correct playing gear is a yellow card which can be followed by a red card for dissent if not rectified.

Players say the skirt-like garment is not comfortable and they were hopeful that it would finally become a thing of the past when the issue was raised at Congress in Kildare last weekend.

However, a motion by Tipperary and Kerry to replace it with shorts was defeated by 64% to 36%. A similar proposal by Great Britain and Meath which would have given players the option to choose between skorts and shorts also fell well short of the two-thirds majority required (55% against, 45% in favour).

Voting was carried out by delegates from the various county boards as well as members of central and provincial councils. The majority of voters were female.

As one of Kerry’s two delegates, Russell confirmed that she voted in line with the players’ wishes, but she fears that delegates from some counties didn’t do likewise.

“Our job as delegates is to speak on behalf of the players and I definitely felt as though that wasn’t reflected by some of the other counties. I don’t know any girl in any age group at any level that goes to training in a skort. That, in itself, should speak volumes to the powers that be. Even the counties that wanted to keep the skorts, there’s no way their girls go training in skorts. I know they don’t.

“When camogie first started, women weren’t allowed to wear pants, so they had no choice but to wear skirts. They were longer at the time and things have evolved since then. The design is better. But there is a misconception that there are shorts underneath the skirts so ‘what’s the big deal?’ They’re not shorts, they’re compression shorts. That’s not the same thing.

“And look, I’m not wearing the skorts so it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the players. That’s what I feel.

“We’re making decisions that really have little relevance to us, so we really have to take our players’ opinions into it. I’m not sure how many delegates go back and ask their players about these motions before they vote on them.”

Also speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry senior player Niamh Leen outlined the specific issues players have with the skort.

“If you went around the country, I guarantee you that you’d only find a handful of girls actually training in a skort,” the Clanmaurice woman said. “I’ve never been to a training session where someone was wearing a skort. We’re all in shorts.

“The practical side of it is that they’re really uncomfortable. They’re constantly rising up and I spend the majority of the match pulling the skort down instead of concentrating on the game. It shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Leen, the discomfort felt by players is not just physical. There is also a psychological discomfort involved.

“I am very paranoid about the skort, especially the length. You spend a lot of time bending over to pick up the ball and I am conscious of it. Even if you size up, it’s still too short. The only way to counteract it is to wear Skins (base layer) underneath which I don’t really like doing because that’s not overly comfortable either.

“It should be a players’ vote at the end of the day. We’re the ones who actually have to wear them and we should be the ones having the say. But, unfortunately, it’s not up to us.

“It’s very, very annoying. I could use harsher words but it is just frustrating, you know? We’ve wanted this motion to be passed for so many years.

“Nobody I know likes playing in a skort and it’s frustrating that our own organisation aren’t taking the players into account.”

This is not the first time a proposal to replace the skort has been rejected and players will have to wait another three years for the next Congress to try to alter the rules on an official basis.

Leen believes that she and her colleagues should not have to wait that long and questions the reasoning of those delegates who voted to keep the status quo.

“Honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition and to keep us unique, and maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable.

“I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”

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MATCH PREVIEW: Kerry name strong team for league final showdown with Armagh

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by Adam Moynihan

Lidl National League Division 1 Final

Kerry v Armagh

Sunday 3pm

Croke Park

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies return to Croke Park on Sunday hoping to retain their Division 1 crown and managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long have named a strong-looking line-up for their battle against Armagh.

Kerry mostly used the league for experimenting but they still managed to win five of their seven matches, enough to secure a top two finish.

Now almost all of The Kingdom’s big hitters are back in play, as evidenced by the team they have selected for this weekend’s Division 1 decider at HQ.

Eleven members of the side that lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final have been selected to start against Armagh. The four “new” starters are goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger, full back Deirdre Kearney, midfielder Mary O’Connell and full forward Emma Dineen.

Dineen has rejoined the panel following a spell abroad and has slotted seamlessly into Kerry’s full forward line. She will be flanked by Footballer of the Year Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and the skilful Hannah O’Donoghue, who scored 1-2 against Galway a fortnight ago.

The only really notable absentee – apart from veterans like Emma Costello and Louise Galvin who haven’t yet featured for the team in 2024 – is Síofra O’Shea. The dynamic attacker, who heroically came off the bench in last year’s All-Ireland despite damaging her ACL in the lead-up to the game, is still rehabbing that serious injury.

Meanwhile, the return of All-Star defender Cáit Lynch bolsters Kerry’s back six. The Castleisland Desmonds woman has been used sparingly so far this year and she came on at half-time in that final regulation league game versus Galway.

Quill and Long are likely to call on substitutes Amy Harrington and Danielle O’Leary to make an impact if and when required.

Kerry’s sole loss in the league came at the hands of their final opponents, Armagh, who are looking to emulate what The Kingdom achieved last season by winning Division 1 at the first attempt after gaining promotion from Division 2 the previous season.

The Orchard County beat Kerry by 3-14 to 1-13 at the Athletic Grounds just over a month ago.

They flew through the regular phase of the 2024 competition, winning six games in a row before losing to Dublin in Round 7 with many key players being rested.

Star forward Aimee Mackin has been in blistering form. She has racked up 6-21 (4-15 from play) to date, including 2-6 (1-6 from play) in that meeting between the eventual finalists in March.

Armagh had not yet named their team for the final as this article was being published.

This match forms part of a double header with the Division 2 final between Kildare and Tyrone (1pm). Both games will be televised live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh:

1. Mary Ellen Bolger (Southern Gaels)

2. Cáit Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

3. Deirdre Kearney (Na Gaeil)

4. Eilís Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

5. Aishling O’Connell (Scartaglin)

6. Ciara Murphy (MKL Gaels)

7. Kayleigh Cronin (Dr Crokes)

8. Mary O’Connell (Na Gaeil)

9. Anna Galvin (Southern Gaels)

10. Niamh Carmody (Captain – Finuge/St Senan’s)

11. Niamh Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne)

12. Lorraine Scanlon (Castleisland Desmonds)

13. Hannah O’Donoghue (Beaufort)

14. Emma Dineen (Glenflesk)

15. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Corca Dhuibhne)

Subs: Ciara Butler, Danielle O’Leary, Amy Harrington, Ciara McCarthy, Ciara O’Brien, Katie Brosnan, Aoife Dillane, Bríd O’Connor, Kate O’Sullivan, Eilís O’Connor, Fay O’Donoghue, Jess Gill, Róisín Smith, Siobhán Burns, Keri-Ann Hanrahan.

Follow Adam on Twitter/X for all the latest updates from the Ladies Division 1 final at Croke Park

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