The Killarney Advertiser Fantasy Club game in association with Gaelic Plus got underway last weekend and the unique new competition has captured the imagination of players and supporters right across the county.
Entrants scrambled to submit their perfect teams ahead the deadline last Wednesday night and then waited with bated breath to see how their players would fare in the Kerry Senior Club Championship Round 1 matches on Friday and Saturday.
When the games began, some popular players like Tadhg Morley of Templenoe and Daithí Casey of Dr Crokes were sadly notable by their absence while others, like Seán O’Shea of Kenmare and Dingle’s Paul Geaney, did exactly what their managers were hoping for.
It’s tight at the top after the first round of fixtures with joint leaders DJ Murphy of Gneeveguilla and Mick O’Connell of Fossa just six points clear of Gavin Moriarty in third.
DJ, who plays full back for his club and was in action himself over the weekend in the Junior Premier Championship, had free-scoring forwards Tony Brosnan (33), Seán O’Shea (25), Jack Savage (23) and James O’Donoghue (20) to thank for the bulk of his tally with backs Cian Gammell and Dan McCarthy also chipping in with 21 points apiece.
Micko also had Gammell and McCarthy with Paul Geaney (25) and Kenmare goalscorer Paul O’Connor (12) also helping to propel him up the leaderboard.
Kenmare youngster Dan McCarthy could be a game-changer for anyone who has selected him; the Kerry U20 is listed as a defender but he was named at midfield for Kenmare’s victory over Kerins O’Rahilly’s, and he actually did most of his work in the forwards. This is significant because backs earn more points than forwards for scoring from play (9 versus 3) and they also get a bonus if their team concedes under 15 points.
McCarthy, Gammell and attacking Dr Crokes half back Michael Potts each earned 21 points, more than any other back, by virtue of starting (1), winning (3), conceding under 15 (8) and scoring a point (9) in their respective games.
Tony Brosnan of Dr Crokes was the most commonly picked player amongst Fantasy Club managers and his impressive scoring exploits on Friday night saw him clean up with 33 points in total (start=1, win=3, goal=8, five points from play=15, three points from frees=6). Seán O’Shea, Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue have also been selected by a large number of participants, although the rules in relation to Star Players prevented anyone from selecting all four of these players.
Gavin Moriarty from the Killarney Legion is third in the table and family loyalty played a big part in getting him there. He selected his brother, Thomas, in his team and the pacey corner forward came off the bench to kick two points from play against Kilcummin. That bagged him six points and Thomas also picked up three bonus points for helping his side to victory.
Thomas’ teammate Brian Kelly was unfortunately unable to keep a clean sheet (which would have been worth eight points) but he still managed to score four, which was good news for… Brian Kelly. The Legion goalkeeper is taking part in Fantasy Club and he naturally selected himself. His four points elevated him to 18th place on the overall leaderboard, just ahead of his friend and clubmate Derek Twomey (who incidentally went with Shane Murphy in goal).
The majority of managers in the league are, as one might expect, from the Killarney and East Kerry area but “foreign” clubs like John Mitchels, Sneem, Cromane, Beaufort, Annascaul, Castleisland, Dingle and Kenmare are all represented. There is also one entry from the Pádraig Pearse’s club in County Roscommon.
The competition was initially capped at 100 entries but a handful of would-be managers missed the deadline, so the final number of participants is 92.
It’s all to play for heading into Round 2 and with a brand-new set of Gaelic Plus jerseys and some fantastic consolation prizes on the line, managers will be praying for some big performances from their chosen players.
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