Words: Eamonn Fitzgerald
Kerry begin the defence of their Munster SFC title on Sunday next in the Fitzgerald Stadium when they meet Clare with a throw-in time of 3.30pm. In the curtain-raiser at 1.30pm the Kerry ladies play Waterford.
The winners of the Kerry v Clare game will meet Cork in the Munster final. The Rebels scored a great victory over Tipperary last weekend and if Kerry win on Sunday, the Munster final will be played in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It is a source of great satisfaction to Cork that they will be staging the Munster final in their magnificent new complex.
How good are Kerry? The team has not been announced as we go to press so Kerry fans will be hopeful of a home victory. I expect that Eamonn Fitzmaurice will start at least three newcomers to championship football. The defence has been causing some concern. Seasoned defenders Marc ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony have retired and injury may rule out Shane Enright. The midfield, led by David Moran, is strong and there are plenty of options in the forward lines, even without Colm Cooper and Johnny Buckley who have retired from the inter-county scene. The pair will continue to play club football with Dr Crokes. Paul Geaney is the big hope here for scores and much will be expected of James O’Donoghue although he has played very little football for Kerry and for the Legion in the past 12 months.
Clare had a very inexperienced team out against Limerick but they still did the business, easily beating Limerick 1-23 to 0-14. Half of their team against Limerick were playing championship football for the first time and they acquitted themselves very well. These included a new goalkeeper in Eamonn Tubridy, full back Cillian Brennan, corner back Eoghan Collins, centre back Aaron Fitzgerald, as well as forwards Kieran Malone (who scored 1-3) and Eimhin Courtney.
Team manager Colm Collins was happy with their big win over Limerick but he was quick to temper that euphoria as they travel to meet Kerry in Killarney. “We have work to do and nobody is under any illusions about the size of the effort it will take to beat Kerry in Killarney,” he said.
Kerry will start as strong favourites and I expect them to win on home soil but Clare will not bend the knee that easily. In last year’s game, Kerry had to work very hard to fashion a 1-18 to 1-12 win. Kerry have won the last five Munster crowns in a row and after Sunday they should be on course for number six with, Cork waiting in the wings for a traditional Munster final clash.
Sport on TV
What a wonderful weekend we had to savour on TV. I expected Tipperary to push Cork in the Munster SHC and they did just that in a thriller, coming from nine points down to level the game in injury time 2-20 to 1-23. Luke Connolly played a blinder for the Cork footballers as did Colm O’Neill and Mark Collins.They scored 1-13 between them out of Cork’s total tally of 1-17.
Carlow were magnificent in their victory over a disappointing Kildare side and of course the Dubs were merciless, hammering Wicklow by 23 points.
Leinster continued on their winning ways defeating Scarlets 40-32 in the Guinness Pro14 final. Sexton was the big man in this win. I was disappointed in Liverpool, who made too many mistakes in the Champions League final and lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. Their case was not helped when Salah had to go off with a shoulder injury. He should recover to play with Egypt in this summer’s World Cup.
Rory Mcllroy lost his lead in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. His playing partner Molinari won by two shots with a last round of 68. There was real drama in the Rás Tailteann which was won by Luuc Bugter with literally one second to spare. You don’t get any closer than that.