Dr Crokes v St Kieran’s

Saturday, August 25 at 4pm

(Lewis Road)

The above headline is getting a bit repetitive but, unfortunately for 16 of the 17 teams in contention, so too is the Kerry County Championship. Dr Crokes are on the hunt for three-in-a-row and Pat O’Shea’s team are odds-on favourites to prevail once again in 2018.

The Killarney club retained their Club Championship crown with a comprehensive victory over Kenmare in April and they remained unbeaten throughout their County League campaign, winning 10 of their 11 games and drawing one. Untimely injuries to key men Gavin White and Tony Brosnan may open the door for their rivals just a bit but if any squad can absorb the blow of losing such an influential pair, it’s the Crokes’.

St Kieran’s forced a replay with Austin Stacks in Round 1 last year before being eliminated by West Kerry in the loser’s round. They couldn’t have been handed a more difficult opener this time out, but they might take heart from their showing against the same opposition in 2016 when they lost by a single point. Having said that, anything other than a comfortable Crokes victory would be a major shock.

Verdict: Crokes by eleven.

Dr Crokes

Last year: Champions (beat South Kerry)

Winners: 12 times (1901, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1991, 2000, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017)

Current form: WWWWW

Tournament odds: 5/6 

St Kieran’s

Last year: Round 2B (lost to West Kerry)

Winners: Once (1988)

Clubs: Ballymacelligott, Brosna, Castleisland Desmonds, Cordal, Currow, Knocknagoshel, Scartaglin

Tournament odds: 40/1

 

Legion and Rathmore know each other well

Rathmore v Killarney Legion

Saturday, August 25 at 6pm

(Rathbeg)

These two groups of players have met so many times in recent years they must be sick of the sight of each other. The sides are fairly evenly matched but Rathmore have had the upper hand of late, defeating Legion in last year’s O’Donoghue Cup final and also coming out on top when they met in the County League at the end of June.

Led by high calibre players like Paul Murphy, Mark Reen and Shane Ryan, and with two-time All-Star Aidan O’Mahony rumoured to be back and ready for action, Rathmore will be a formidable championship team as always.

As a Legion player it would probably be unwise of me to predict the outcome of this one.

Verdict: Too close to call.

Rathmore

Last year: Quarter-final (lost to South Kerry)

Winners: Never

Current form: WLWLW

Tournament odds: 22/1

Killarney Legion

Last year: Round 2A (lost to Austin Stacks)

Winners: Once (1946)

Current form: LLWWL

Tournament odds: 25/1

 

Can the Shamrocks rock the South?

South Kerry v Kenmare Shamrocks

Saturday, August 25 at 6pm

(Cahersiveen)

Last year’s beaten finalists begin their 2018 campaign with a home fixture against Kenmare Shamrocks in Caherciveen. Having pushed the Crokes reasonably close in 2017, the men from the south will be hoping to go one step further this year and they still have enough talent in their squad to be considered one of the highest ranked contenders.

It has been a mixed year for Kenmare. They reached the final of the Club Championship but lost to the Crokes and last weekend they avoided relegation to Division 3 of the County League with victory on the final day over Kilcummin. With Kerry stars Stephen O’Brien and Seán O’Shea pulling the strings in their forward division, the 2016 Intermediate champs have what it takes to make life difficult for any team in the county.

Verdict: South Kerry by three.

South Kerry

Last year: Runners-up (lost to Dr Crokes)

Winners: 10 times (1955, 1956, 1958, 1981, 1982, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2015)

Clubs: Derrynane, Dromid Pearses, Renard, Skellig Rangers, Sneem, St. Mary’s, St. Michael’s/Foilmore, Valentia, Waterville

Tournament odds: 9/1

Kenmare Shamrocks

Last year: Quarter-final (lost to Dr Crokes)

Winners: Never

Current form: LLLWW

Tournament odds: 25/1

 

An Ghaeltacht back in the big time

Mid Kerry v An Ghaeltacht

Saturday, August 25 at 6pm

(Beaufort)

The glory days of the early 2000s seem like a lifetime away but, after a spell out of the spotlight, An Ghaeltacht will once again have a chance to prove themselves at the top table of Kerry football. The Intermediate champions brought the Bishop Moynihan Cup back to Gallarus in 2001 and 2003 and starting this weekend they’ll be hoping to get back to winning ways at senior level.

They’ll fancy their chances of getting a positive result in Round 1; opponents Mid Kerry lost both of their ties in last year’s championship and they’ve only won two championship games in the past three years.

Verdict: An Ghaeltacht by one.

Mid Kerry

Last year: Round 2B (lost to East Kerry)

Winners: 4 times (1967, 1971, 1992, 2008)

Clubs: Beaufort, Cromane, Glenbeigh-Glencar, Keel, Laune Rangers, Milltown/Castlemaine

Tournament odds: 16/1

An Ghaeltacht

Last year: Intermediate champions (beat Templenoe)

Winners: 2 times (2001, 2003)

Form: WLLLW

Tournament odds: 16/1

 

St Brendan’s could cause some upsets

Qualification Round

St Brendan’s v West Kerry

Sunday, August 26 at 6.30pm

(Austin Stack Park)

Their record in the County Championship might tell a different tale but St Brendan’s are a team on the up. With up-and-coming talent like Jack Barry, Ivan Parker and Stefan Okunbor in their ranks, the divisional outfit have the potential to cause one or two upsets in this year’s competition.

You would certainly expect them to advance past last year’s semi-finalists West Kerry, who will probably struggle to cope with the loss of their players from An Ghaeltacht.

The winners of this game will play East Kerry in the first round proper next weekend.

Verdict: St Brendan’s by five.

St Brendan’s

Last year: Round 3 (lost to East Kerry)

Winners: Never

Clubs: Ardfert, Churchill, John Mitchels, Na Gaeil, St Pat’s Blennerville

Tournament odds: 25/1

West Kerry

Last year: Semi-final (lost to Dr Crokes)

Winners: Three times (1984, 1985, 1990)

Clubs: Annascaul, Castlegregory, Lispole

Tournament odds: 66/1

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