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The Journey Begins: Kerry embark on fresh All-Ireland quest

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by Adam Moynihan

National League: Division 1

Kildare v Kerry

Sunday at 1.45pm

Newbridge

Deferred on TG4 (5.35pm)

It’s only January. It’s only the league. It’s "only" Kildare. But already summertime looms so close we can almost taste it.

The return of Jack O’Connor, coupled with an unshakable feeling that this maturing crop of Kerry players are on the brink of something magnificent, has set hearts and minds racing.

Summer in Dublin. The sun beating down. Croke Park rocking, packed to the rafters. And 15 Kerrymen striding purposefully behind the Artane Band. If that image doesn’t stir something in you, you must be lost. Put down the Killarney Advertiser and seek assistance.

It’s hard not to lose the run of yourself in Kerry; at times I think that losing the run of ourselves is part of our DNA. We adore our team. We adore them so much we sometimes lose sight of reality. “If you’re not first, you’re last” is funny when Will Ferrell says it, yet it’s a mantra we seem to take it pretty darn seriously around here. We’re not idiots, we know we can’t win every year. But every year we come back and expect to win.

And, despite the fact that it has now been seven going on eight years since we last won an All-Ireland, expectations remain high. According to a survey carried out by the Killarney Advertiser this week, 81% of supporters are predicting that Jack O’Connor’s team will win Division 1 of the National League (up from 34% in 2021). Almost 98% think The Kingdom will retain their Munster crown (up from 96% in 2021).

As for the biggest prize? 63% believe that Sam Maguire will be returning to Kerry in July – the exact same percentage as last year. Every respondent is predicting that Kerry will, at the very least, reach the All-Ireland semi-final.

The road ahead of us is long and winding. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

KILDARE AWAY

Kerry demolished their opponents in the McGrath Cup and although the manager insisted that he had no choice but to field strong lineups, he also said that confidence and momentum is key. With that in mind, he will go with his strongest possible 15 (as he sees it) for the potentially tricky league opener against his old team, Kildare.

Dara Moynihan is back in contention after recovering from a quad strain and star forward David Clifford will start after being held in reserve for much of the Cork game.

Mike Breen (hamstring), Stephen O’Brien (hamstring), Gavin Crowley (unspecified), Joe O’Connor (knee) and David Moran (groin) are out. O’Connor will also be without the club-tied Na Gaeil quartet of Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Barry, Stefan Okunbor and Andrew Barry, as well as Pa Warren of Gneeveguilla.

Shane Murphy could well be thrown straight into league action after impressing in the McGrath Cup final and fellow newcomer Dan O’Donoghue is in contention to start at corner back. He will being doing well if he manages to displace Brian Ó Beaglaoich; the An Ghaeltacht man had fine season in 2021. Jason Foley and Tom O’Sullivan are probable starters at 3 and 4.

Tadhg Morley is likely to anchor the defence from the centre back position with Paul Murphy and Gavin White either side of him. Kerry find themselves short of options at centre field – they are missing five midfielders in total - so regular centre forward Seán O’Shea will probably continue to deputise alongside Adrian Spillane.

Paudie Clifford should start at 11 with Micheál Burns, Dara Moynihan and Jack Savage the likely candidates for the half forward spots. David Clifford and the in-form Paul Geaney will line out in the full forward line, possibly with Killian Spillane, although Tony Brosnan will also be hoping to get the nod.

Kildare are newcomers to Division 1 having earned promotion in 2021 under Kerry’s new manager. That Jack O’Connor factor is bound to add some spice (after the Cork game, Tadhg Morley joked that The Lilywhites will be “gunning” for their former bainisteoir), and St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge is known to be a cauldron.

Kerry will be plenty motivated too, however, and this is a match they should be winning.

VERDICT: Kerry by four.

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Spillane brothers named as brand ambassadors

Kerry players Adrian and Killian Spillane have been named as brand ambassadors for Healy Insurances. The brother’s partnership with the local insurance broker comes as Kerry get ready to face […]

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Kerry players Adrian and Killian Spillane have been named as brand ambassadors for Healy Insurances.

The brother’s partnership with the local insurance broker comes as Kerry get ready to face Limerick in the Munster final on May 28.

“We are delighted to team up with the lads this year,” ​​​​​John Healy of Healy Insurances said.

“As talented footballers they embody our core values of integrity, efficiency, progress and of course teamwork.”

Adrian Spillane said that they are thrilled to partner up with Healy Insurances.

“John and the team provide very competitive insurance quotes and the service is second to none,” he said.

Healy Insurances is one of the leading insurance brokers in Kerry and offers competitive quotes for motor, home, property, business, liability and farm insurance.

To find out more follow them on their Facebook page for updates and competitions in the coming weeks.

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New gear leaves Glenflesk girls with happy hearts

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The Glenflesk U12 girls football team were delighted to receive a new set of jerseys recently, kindly sponsored by Mary Cahill of Happy Hearts Childcare, Barraduff.

There was huge excitement when the girls donned the stylish new shirts for the first time last Wednesday, and the O’Neills jerseys proved to be a lucky charm as they defeated Beaufort at home. One of the most striking elements of the new gear is the smiling red heart which is part of the Happy Hearts Childcare logo.

“We would like to sincerely thank Mary for her generous sponsorship and we look forward to many more years of success in our Happy Heart jerseys,” Glenflesk LGFA chairperson Derek Fleming said.

Happy Hearts Childcare was established as a preschool in Knockanes in 2009 and opened with just three children on their books. Numbers have increased steadily over the years and in October 2021 Happy Hearts Childcare moved to a state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility in Barraduff village, which now caters for 68 children.

There are 10 staff employed in Happy Hearts and there are plans to expand even further in 2023 when a new extension is planned.

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