It’s midweek already and so as the Monaghan match slips below the horizon in the rearview mirror the next hurdle facing us starts to loom up ahead. A big hurdle it is too: Kerry, under the lights at Austin Stack Park in Tralee on Saturday evening (throw-in 7pm).
The Kingdom got off to a flying start last Sunday, coming away from the long trip up to Letterkenny with two League points in the bag. That 2-17 to 1-17 shootout win over Donegal was notable in that, as Eamonn Fitzmaurice cheerfully admitted afterwards, it was the first time in five years that Kerry had managed to secure a first round League victory. Maybe that stat puts our own setback last Saturday night into some context.
Like ourselves, Kerry melded youth and experience in their line-up for their opening spring fixture and, no more than ourselves, they’ve got a few players club-tied at the minute as well. They still have considerable firepower up front, though, with Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue in harness together in the full-forward line. It was the Dingle man – subsequently voted Football Player of the Week – who did most of the damage to Donegal the last day with his two well-taken goals. Both gents will need close watching down in Tralee.
There’s no news yet, of course, about team details for the game. I’d imagine we’ll do the same as last week and name our team on Friday evening. It might, then, be an idea to let that outrage loose now, folks, about not naming our subs when we do so as I doubt we’ll be changing established practice on that front anytime soon.
I’ve just had a shifty round the Kerry GAA site and they’ve no word as yet either on when they plan to make their team announcement. When they do, though, it won’t feature Shane Enright, as the combative Tarbet clubman was withdrawn in Letterkenny suffering from concussion following an accidental clash of heads with Donegal’s Michael Murphy.
The only firm news about the match-day line-up, then, concerns the ref. The man in charge for this one is Armagh’s Padraig Hughes, an official we last encountered when we played Dublin in the second round of last year’s League campaign.
We’ve a decent record in recent years against Kerry in the League. They beat us fairly well, 2-13 to 0-14, at MacHale Park last March, which was our fourth defeat in five starts in last year’s NFL campaign. That win for the Kingdown was, however, their first for a while over us.
We had an easy enough victory over them in Killarney the previous February, running out winners by 2-11 to 0-10, but that was a first round game and it was the Kerry lads’ first competitive outing since capturing the All-Ireland the previous September. We can all recall – all too well – how our close encounters with them in the summer of 2014 fared out but that spring we beat them by 2-15 to 1-13 at MacHale Park and the previous year we were well on top against them in an opening round tie, also at MacHale Park, keeping them scoreless in the second half as we won by 0-15 to 1-6.
The bookies haven’t much time for our good form against Kerry at this time of year, understandable given our contrasting fortunes last weekend. Paddy Power have installed the home team as hot 1/2 favourites to do the business against us on Saturday night. What do you reckon about how this one will go?
How will we do against Kerry?
- Lose (58%, 257 Votes)
- Win (33%, 144 Votes)
- Draw (9%, 42 Votes)
Total Voters: 443