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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.

Sport

Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan

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Adam Moynihan reports from the Fitzgerald Stadium

National League Division 1

Kerry 3-16 Monaghan 0-14

HT: Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 0-6

A spectacular second-half goal by surprise inclusion Paudie Clifford helped Kerry to an impressive 11-point over Monaghan in Killarney this afternoon.

The All-Star forward wasn’t named on the initial panel of 27 but when his name was called out as No. 26 before the game, a loud cheer rang out around the O’Sullivan Stand. Kerry fans had to wait until the 46th minute to see the Fossa captain make his first appearance of the season but it didn’t take him long to make his mark.

After soloing all of 80 metres, the elder Clifford dispatched a perfect finish beyond the reach of Rory Beggan to send Kerry nine points clear with 51 minutes on the clock.

In truth the game was drifting away from Monaghan before Clifford’s cameo but his sensational contribution made absolutely certain.

With two points on the board and David Clifford and Seánie O’Shea waiting in the wings ahead of Mayo away in two weeks’ time, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor will be a happy man leaving Killarney this evening.

GIFTED

Monaghan stayed in touch with Kerry for the first quarter, thanks in the main to a string of needless fouls that gifted the away team some easy scores.

Conor McCarthy broke the deadlock with one such free in the 6th minute and Tony Brosnan got Kerry off the mark two minutes later with a placed ball of his own.

The reliable Dessie Ward and Kerry’s bustling full forward Darragh Roche exchanged scores before Micheál Bannigan tapped over a free to re-establish the Farney’s early lead.

Kerry then went on a mini-run, instigated by a neat team move that saw Tony Brosnan and Micheál Burns combine to tee up the excellent Tom O’Sullivan for a close-in score.

Good work by Barry Dan O’Sullivan from a hop ball led to another Brosnan free, and then a high, skyscraper of a point from the stand side into the scoreboard end by Donal Down O’Sullivan gave the hosts a two-point lead.

However, two more avoidable fouls handed Monaghan’s free-takers McCarthy and Bannigan a point apiece and midway through the first half, the scores were level at 0-5 each.

The Kingdom finally began to inject some pace into proceedings in the second quarter with Dara Moynihan and Micheál Burns especially active. The All-Ireland champions scored five of the next six points with Roche, Brosnan (free), Moynihan, Donal Down O’Sullivan and Burns all hitting the target.

A tasty individual effort by Monaghan’s best forward, Conor McCarthy, left the scores at 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.

UNDONE

Monaghan’s good work in the first half was rather quickly undone in the second as Kerry exerted their dominance in all sectors. By the time Darragh Roche evaded Beggan and goaled in the 39th minute, the home side led by eight (1-12 to 0-7) and the result already appeared to be beyond question.

In fairness to Vinney Corey’s charges, they rattled off three unanswered points over the next 10 minutes – and they would have scored a goal but for a great save by Shane Murphy – but then Clifford’s introduction set the tone for the remainder.

Adrian Spillane’s goalbound effort was tipped over in the 49th minute (Spillane was the last of Kerry’s six forwards to score) and then Clifford gathered the ball inside his own 65, sprinted straight for goal, and finished emphatically to make it 2-13 to 0-10.

Things got worse for Monaghan four minutes later when Ryan O’Toole saw red for a high tackle on Stefan Okunbor. In the next attack, Tom O’Sullivan sauntered forward to drive a trademark outside-of-the-boot shot between the uprights and Kerry led by double scores (2-14 to 0-10).

Stephen O’Hanlon was one of Monaghan’s shining lights and he scored two of his three points in the final quarter, but they counted for little when all was said and done.

TG4’s Man of the Match Donal Down O’Sullivan capped a fine full debut with a nice goal in stoppage time as Kerry picked up their first league win of the season.

KERRY: S Murphy; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-2); P Warren, T Morley, P Murphy; J Barry, BD O’Sullivan; M Burns (0-1), D Moynihan (0-1), A Spillane (0-1); T Brosnan (0-4f), D Roche (1-2), D O’Sullivan (1-3).

Subs: P Clifford (1-1) for Moynihan; S Okunbor for BD O’Sullivan; K Spillane (0-1m) for Roche, G Horan for Warren; R Murphy for A Spillane.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; T McPhillips, K Duffy (0-1), R Wylie; C Boyle, D Ward (0-1), K Loughran; K  Lavelle, C Lennon; S O’Hanlon (0-3), M Bannigan (0-3, 2f), J Wilson; C McCarthy (0-5, 4f), K Gallagher (0-1), S Carey.

Subs: D Treanor for Lennon; G Mohan for Wilson; T McPhillips for Lavelle; S Jones for Carey; S Slevin for Wylie.

Attendance: 10,232

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Handball continues to shine in Killarney

By Con Dennehy Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of […]

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By Con Dennehy

Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of the sport to a new generation.

It has been a phenomenal and successful year for the Spa Killarney Club. At the Annual General Meeting of the club this week, one of the highlights of the year singled out for mention was the hosting and promotion of a One Wall National Tournament which attracted players from all over Ireland to the Killarney venue in March.

There was joy for the home club at the tournament when Currow native and Spa Killarney Club member Aoife Walsh had an impressive victory in the highly competitive Ladies B championship.

There was also an international dimension for the club in 2022 when four players took part in the European One Wall Tournament in London. At this event Eoin O’Donoghue won gold in the Open Doubles B championship where he partnered with John Joe Quirke from Glenbeigh and Brendan O’Donoghue won a silver medal in the Over 40 Doubles final.

“As a new club we were delighted with the success we achieved in 2022. In January Aoife Walsh and Sinead Moriarty took home silverware in the highly competitive She’s Ace competition in Tyrone. This really was our springboard for success during the year and resulted in some of our players competing in the One Wall national finals in Roscommon in July. We are looking forward to an exciting 2023 and hopefully welcoming new members to the club,” said Eoin O’Donoghue, PRO of Spa Killarney Handball Club.

The club rounded off a memorable year in October when they hosted the Munster One Wall championships and the Kerry Handball Board AGM in November where club members Kieran O’Brien was elected president of Kerry Handball and Brendan O’Donoghue was appointed delegate to the Kerry GAA Board.

Officers Elected for 2023/2024: Brendan O’Donoghue (Chairman), Sinead Moriarty (Vice Chairperson), David Gillespie (Secretary), Eoin O’Donoghue (PRO) and James O’Brien (Treasurer).

Open Night

Spa Killarney Handball Club will host an Open Night at the Spa GAA Club on Monday night (February 6). This will be an opportunity for attendees to savour the thrill of handball, have a taster game and meet the club players. It commences at 7pm and all over 18s are welcome.

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