Preview of the All Ireland Qualifier against Westmeath

July 10th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

No matter what way you look at next Sunday's qualifier Kerry/Westmeath everything points to a Kerry win and another step along the road of redemption following last years traumatic defeat by Dublin in the final. And make no mistake about it but that All Ireland final loss is still hurting greatly and every Kerry player on the panel is fully determined to make amends for that last grasp defeat when Dublin goalkeeper pointed that late, late free which as i have stated here previously was unjustly awarded to Dublin. The Kerry preparation since the Cork defeat has been determined, meticulous and focused and while many will argue that the so called "back door" rout to the final is a big draw back it can also work to a side's advantage. One thing is absolutely certain and that is the Kerry players will be totally focused, eager for the fray, fresh from hard training and the required amount of rest, a combination necessary to bring a team to peak fitness necessary for a particular match. Each game, each opponent along the way requires different planning.

While of course there is always the danger of Westmeath playing far above themselves and Kerry literally struggling to find their best form nothing short of a Kerry win would be one of the big shocks of the season. The home ground packed with hostile voracious Westmeath supporters will test the spirit of the visiting team, referee and umpires. We saw the unbelieveable unfold as Galway stunned an underperforming Kilkenny in the Leinster final last Sunday. One side playing above and beyond their past performances and the other side as they say "unable to raise a gallop". Hopefully Darren o Sullivan will be fit while Daniel Bohane latest injury is a massive blow to the player himself as the Stacks man appears to be cursed with injuries. Kieran Donaghy has had a bad bout of illness and might not be back to full fitness so a full game might not be in him. However i am looking forward to seeing Kerry throw off the shackles, play with abandon, skill and true Kingdom style, move the ball forward fast and long and with the forwards we have we will outscore the home side. Something new is required now as the qualifiers beckon. Where exactly are Kerry at now, can they produce a performance to convince the doubters that they are well capable of winning the All Ireland? This in my opinion is the most intriguing question of all.   


It is undoubtedly great therapy for mind and soul when someone or something occurs which helps you really appreciate what is most important in life and makes you realise that our constant preoccupation with all sport but particularly the "great importance" of Kerry football and its progress is in itself a very minor matter indeed in the overall contex of what matters most in life.

Since April of this year I have been in constant e-mail contact with a remarkable priest, a member of the Salesian Order. Fr Martin McCormack  a missionary priest from Foyly, Ballydesmond Co Cork will be keeping his fingers crossed as the Olympic Games begin in London on July 27th. He along with Swazi national coach Muzi Mabuza, has been responsible for coaching the two Swazi athletes Phumlile Nzdinisa and Sibusoso Matjwenga who are representing their country in the 100, 200, and 400 sprints. "Although I believe their chances are slim given they have had little opportunity to compete against top athletes, Fr. Martin said, "getting them to qualification stage was part of my brief and a real achievement."

He was recently delighted to be honoured by Manzini Rotary Club when he was awarded the Paul Harris fellow award for exceptional work for Rotary and the poor of Swaziland.

Fr Martin with the coach Muzi Mabuza set up the Manzini athletic club and deliberately targeted poor children who were given no chance in life. One boy was found all alone and abandoned on the streets and is now the 200 metre national champion. The national 100 metre champion lives with his mother who sells seeds in a street market. He walks forty minutes to his school every day because he can' afford the bus fare. They now have fourteen athletes on their books including their Olympic hopefuls. Last April they suffered a terrible tragedy when one of their brightest young hopefuls a beautiful young sixteen year old girl named Samkeliswe Phiri was brutally murdered in what is suspected was some form of local tribal ritual. Samkelisiwe had represented Swaziland in the 400 meters and was considered a very real Olympic future prospect. This young girls poor back ground reflex the ethos of the Manzini club. She dropped out of school because she couldn't afford the fees. The story behind this shocking murder of such a talented young athlete so far away from Kerry brings home to me in no uncertain manner precisely where one's sporting priorities must lie.

Fr Martin will join me In Conversation, Radio Kerry, 6-7 pm next Wednesday 18th to talk about his work in the mission fields of Swaziland. Following the program we will be guests of that superb complex, the Ricoh Athletic club Castleisland where a special commenerative trophy will be presented to Denny McSweeney and the members of the club. This engraved trophy will in future be awarded to one of Kerry's lady athletes on a yearly basis for competition which will be decided by those responsible for the sport in the county. It's a small tiny little gesture, but assures that future generations of Kerry athletes will be familiar with the name Samkeliswe Phiri and hopefully a bond between Fr Martins Manzini athletic club in far away Swaziland and the sport here in Kerry will forever be entwined and the name Samkeliswe Phiri will never be forgotten and lost inn the mists of time. Life and sport is all about priorities.

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