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‘The game is most enjoyable when you’re kicking the ball’ – Seánie O’Shea

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by Adam Moynihan

Seánie O’Shea has echoed manager Jack O’Connor’s recent comments about Kerry’s style of play, insisting that the team is at its best when moving the ball at pace.

Speaking at Croke Park at the launch of Allianz’s sponsorship of the football championship, the Kenmare man said that fast build-up play - via kicking the ball - is Kerry’s most effective and most enjoyable offensive tactic.

“Traditionally in Kerry that’s the way we always like to play,” O’Shea told this reporter. “Kick and move. Kick and move. Get the ball through the lines as fast as we can.

“The quicker you get it up, the tougher it is for the other team to get set up as well. It’s definitely a nice way to play.

“Now, it’s not possible all the time with the way certain teams set up against you. You might have to slow it down at certain times of the game.

“But generally it’s most enjoyable when you’re kicking the ball.”

O’Connor’s remarks about Kerry's attacking play came in the wake of the recent Monaghan game, a game which O’Shea and several other regular starters missed as they were injured and/or being rested. Kerry eventually ran out 11-point winners in Killarney (after they injected pace into their attack) with several fringe players to the fore.

The team’s captain on the field in 2022 says the form of these newcomers has given the whole panel a significant boost.

“That’s the way you want it. Fellas have come in and played very well. They’ll be looking to put down a marker for later on in the year and hold onto their jersey. It’s great for the squad. There’s good depth there and it brings great bite to training. There’s fellas lifting.

“The more competition the better you have to be playing to get your place, and that’s going to benefit the team.”

One of the players who has arrived on the scene in a major way is 22-year-old Kilgarvan native Donal O’Sullivan Down. After making an impact off the bench against Donegal, O’Sullivan was handed his first start against Monaghan and he scored 1-3 in a eye-catching Man-of-the-Match display.

The well-built corner forward is a guy whom O’Shea knows well. They work as teachers in the same secondary school in Kenmare and they also travel to training together.

While O’Sullivan’s form has come as something of a bolt from the blue for many observers, O’Shea is far from shocked at his colleague’s performances.  

“I’m not surprised [at how well he has done]. I obviously know Donal from when he was playing underage. He played very well for the Kerry minors and the U20s too. Then injuries came against him for a while. He had a couple of bad years out.

“But Donal works really hard off the field, getting himself in good shape. He spent a year on the panel last year and he got great experience from that and great learnings, and I’m just delighted for him now that he has hit the ground running. He’ll be looking to build on that.

“He's a great character. We do a good bit of travelling together and he’s good company in fairness. He’s a very happy character so he’s great to have around.”

O’Sullivan’s next challenge is to retain his place on the team, which will be easier said than done with the two Cliffords and O’Shea himself expected to return to the starting lineup in the coming weeks.

After recovering from a knee injury, O’Shea is hopeful of playing some part in Saturday’s match against Mayo in Castlebar.

“I’m feeling good now,” the 24-year-old confirmed.I just had a bit of a niggle in the knee from last year. It just needed a couple of weeks extra to clear up. But I’m back doing a bit now the last couple of weeks and I’ll hopefully see game time soon enough. Hopefully now this weekend - if not then the weekend after.

“But please God now this weekend I’ll be able to see some bit of action.”

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Killarney set for festival of football at Spa GAA’s Club 7s

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The third annual Killarney Club 7s tournament will be staged next weekend (June 1-2) at Spa GAA grounds with 36 clubs and over 500 players due to take part.

The hugely successful event has already become a popular fixture of the local sporting calendar with large crowds flocking to Tullig for two days of football and entertainment.

With Heineken as title sponsors and support also coming from the likes of Kellihers Toyota, Killarney Credit Union, Sheahan’s, GMIB.ie, Daly’s SuperValu and O’Callaghan Coaches, attendees will be treated to top quality food and drink on site, as well as a wide array of live music. Acclaimed group Chasing Abbey are the headline act on Saturday with Super Céilí rounding things off on Sunday night.

On the pitch, men’s and women’s teams from all over the country will compete for €10,000 in prize money.

Matches will be played across three excellent pitches, all of which can be easily viewed from all areas of the grounds.

The group stages will be played on Saturday with the knockout rounds scheduled for Sunday. Participating teams include Confey from Kildare, St Finbarr’s from Cork, Castleknock from Dublin and, all the way from Germany, Berlin GAA.

The hosts Spa won the 2023 men’s final in dramatic fashion when a last-gasp goal saw them beat Cuala in front of a boisterous crowd.

Free shuttle buses will be running to Killarney when the festivities wind down at 10pm each night.

For more information, visit killarneyclub7s.ie.

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Fierce rivals Celtic and Athletic set for tense Kerry District League final

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Killarney Celtic’s dominance of the local junior soccer scene appears to show no signs of letting up after the Derreen-based club added more silverware to their cabinet last Sunday – but their fiercest rivals are hoping to rip up the script in this weekend’s league final.

Last week the Hoops defeated Tralee Dynamos in the final of the Greyhound Bar KO Cup to make it six-in-a-row in the county’s most prestigious knockout competition.

Lee Downing was the hero on the day as he scored twice in the first half to put his side in the ascendency. In the end, that was enough to get the job done as the Killarney lads held on for a 2-0 win.

The Celts have the opportunity to complete another league and cup double this weekend, although they will be pushed all the way by a talented young Killarney Athletic outfit in the Premier A final.

The match will take place on Sunday at 4pm in Mounthawk Park in Tralee and Brendan Moloney’s Blues will be eager to bring their neighbours’ remarkable run to an abrupt end.

Athletic will unfortunately be without stalwart Shane Doolan who recently suffered an ACL injury.

Supporters of both clubs are urged to make the journey to Tralee and get behind their teams for one last time this season.

The Killarney Athletic B team play Iveragh United in the Tommy Healy Cup final replay at the same venue at 1pm.

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