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The key dates for Kerry as they plot another All-Ireland charge

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All-Ireland champions Kerry get their title defence up and running next Saturday, April 22 with a Munster semi-final at home to Tipperary. Throw-in at the Fitzgerald Stadium is at 4pm.

Victory would tee up a Munster final against Clare or Limerick on Sunday, May 7 with the decider expected to take place in Limerick regardless of the opposition.

Kerry have an alternating home and away arrangement with Limerick that includes Munster finals. Last year Kerry hosted the Treaty in Killarney.

Kerry and Clare also have an alternating home and away arrangement but this excludes Munster finals. The last two Munster finals between Kerry and Clare (1992 and 1997) took place at the Gaelic Grounds.

The Munster Championship itself remains unchanged in 2023 but the revamped Sam Maguire/Tailteann Cup structure means that things are a little more complicated thereafter. This year, for the first time ever, league standings will play a role in the championship.

The new format will see 16 counties competing for the Sam Maguire Cup while the remaining teams will take part in the Tailteann Cup.

The eight provincial finalists will advance to the All-Ireland round robin series (four groups of four) where they will be joined by last year’s Tailteann Cup winners Westmeath and the next seven highest ranked teams in this year’s National League. (If Westmeath reach the Leinster final, it will be the next eight highest ranked teams.)

This means that even if Kerry are defeated by Tipperary in next week’s Munster semi-final, they are still guaranteed a spot in the last 16 thanks to their fifth-place finish in Division 1. In this event, they can be drawn in any of the four groups.

The draw for the round robin series will take place on Tuesday, May 2 - before the provincial finals are played.

If Kerry reach the Munster final and lose, they will qualify for the round robin series as a provincial runner-up (second seed). They can be drawn in any group not containing the Munster champions.

If Kerry win Munster, they will advance to the round robin series as first seed. They will be joined in a group of four by a runner-up from another province and two other teams who will qualify via their league placing (or Westmeath).

If they are a top seed, Kerry’s first match will be at home to the third seed on May 20/21; their second match will be away to the fourth seed on June 3/4; and their third match will be against the group’s provincial runner-up at a neutral venue on June 17/18.

The top team in each group advances to the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Second and third in each group advance to the preliminary quarter-finals on June 24/25 with the second place teams getting home advantage. The fourth-place team in each group is eliminated.

The All-Ireland quarter-finals will be staged on July 1/2.

The All-Ireland semi-finals will be staged on July 15/16. If the provincial champions qualify for the semi-finals then Munster will play Connacht and Leinster will play Ulster.

The All-Ireland final is fixed for Sunday, July 30.

KEY DATES

April 22 Munster Semi-Final

May 7 Munster Final

May 20-June 18 All-Ireland Round Robin Series

June 24/25 All-Ireland Preliminary Quarter-Finals

July 1/2 All-Ireland Quarter-Finals

July 15/16 All-Ireland Semi-Finals

July 30 All-Ireland Final

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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