Okay, that’s enough resting on the laurels following the win in Clones. It’s Wednesday already and, along with remembering to put the bins out later on, it’s time to be thinking about the match against Kerry on Sunday.
This is the second of our three home games in this year’s League campaign. The hurlers are the warm-up act at MacHale Park on Sunday as they seek to extend their 100% record in Division 2B. They’re up against Wicklow, who have yet to get off the mark themselves. Throw-in for the hurlers is 12.45pm with the football getting underway at 2.30pm.
The ref for the football game is Clare’s Rory Hickey, though, as someone has already pointed out in the comments, he’ll no doubt find an eager assistant in one K Donaghy. The last time the Clare official handled one of our matches was our clash with Monaghan last March, in which he gave the line to two of the flying-fisted Farney lads.
Kerry are tipping along okay so far this year, with their two wins and two losses placing them in fourth spot in the Division One table, ahead of Monaghan on points difference. Like ourselves they lost their opening two games – the defeat to Dublin was no surprise but the home loss to Roscommon certainly was – but they’ve recovered since, with an easy away win against Down followed by a five-point victory over Donegal in that tempestuous Tralee meeting last Sunday. Kerry escaped from that brawl with just a monetary slap on the wrist but their red-carded full-forward Alan Fitzgerald will be suspended for Sunday.
Any match with Kerry has to be regarded as a tough proposition for us. As opponents in springtime, though, they’re a team we’ve a great record against. In the past decade we’ve met eleven times in the League (we met twice in 2012) and we’ve won eight, drawn one and lost two. I don’t think we’ve anything like as good a record against any other county in the League over this period. Pity we couldn’t say the same about our championship meetings with them.
We’re heading into Sunday’s clash looking to record a fifth successive League win over them. They were, of course, only sobering up when we beat them down in Killarney in the opening round last year, while the year before we’d both lost our opening two games before coming together at MacHale Park in a Round 3 match that we won. In 2013, also in Castlebar, we kept them scoreless for the entire second half when beating them in the opening round, while in 2012 we earned a gutsy Round 7 draw with them in Tralee and then beat them after extra-time in the semi-final the weekend after.
You have to go back to 2011 for our most recent League defeat to them and even then it took a tumble in the square from Darran the Diver to swing that Round 2 MacHale Park clash in their favour. Before that we won in Tralee (in Round 5) in 2010, lost (in Round 4) also in Tralee in 2009, won at home in the spiky ‘Spoongate’ meeting (also in Round 4) in 2008 and won too at Castlebar in Round 1 in 2007 (which, coincidentally, was the first ever match report I did on the blog – oh, the innocence of it). And, for good measure, we won down in Tralee in Round 1 in 2006 as well.
So much for history. Early team news for Sunday – courtesy of this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital variants) – is that Conor Loftus is the only new injury concern for us following the Monaghan game. He went off with what the paper says was a hamstring problem and he was due to be assessed at training last night. On the plus side, the paper reports that Alan Freeman, Alan Dillon, Michael Conroy and Caolan Crowe all played for their clubs in the Michael Walsh Cup last weekend and it says all four are “pushing for a place” in the squad for Sunday.
With the Connacht U21 semi-final against Leitrim on the weekend after next now peeking over the horizon, Stephen Rochford will need to consider how many of the younger fraternity should feature against Kerry. Diarmuid O’Connor has started in all four games to date and Michael Hall has lined out in the last three so I’d say there’s every likelihood they’ll both be named in the team for Sunday. Conor Loftus started the last day and came on as a sub against Donegal but, even if he’s not ruled out by injury, I’d say that with so many more established names now available once again it’s doubtful that he’ll feature the next day. We’re probably looking at Friday night to see the team announcement.
Despite our ten-year WWWLWLDWWWW record against the Yerras, Paddy Power reckon Sunday’s match is a toss-up – we’re very marginally favoured at 10/11. What do you think, though: how will Sunday’s match go?
How will we do against Kerry?
- Win (81%, 313 Votes)
- Lose (13%, 52 Votes)
- Draw (6%, 22 Votes)
Total Voters: 387