National League

Kerry stay in Division 1 and St. Brendan's College no match for St. Colman's of Newry

April 13th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was a case of mission accomplished in Fitzgerald's Stadium last Sunday as in magnificent blazing sun shine Kerry retained their place in division one of the National league.  From the very first ball kicked in anger in this league it was evident that retaining division one status was Kerry's only objective and following their run of games and having lost so many top class players from last year I believe that this campaign has been of tremendous benefit to the Kerry backroom team. Their week of training in warmer climes has certainly paid dividends as  the players were definitely looking far fitter, livelier and more focused than in any of their previous matches. Of course there is a lot of sharpening up work to be done and that will be all worked on from here out as they boys are put through their paces in training. More ball work, more speed work, greater intensity, and we will see an even much improved display I am convinced in the forth coming championship game against Tipperary.

There were some outstanding displays in this recent victory. Great to se Thomas o Se back in harness and his devastating runs right through the heart of the Monaghan defense were a joy to behold. His point in the second half following such a run into the score board end of the stadium brought the greatest cheer of the day. As deafening as any heard at the Masters in Augusta. The Kerry faithful loved it and rose to the Gaeltaght man as of one. Kieran Donaghy continues to improve and his fielding and ball winning skills both high and low was another feature of the afternoon. Let's hope that the Austin Stacks man will have an injury free season. Seamus Scanlon continues to improve with each passing week and the more matches he gets the fitter he becomes. Anthony Maher needs more time and the selectors are bringing him along very nicely while Michael Quirk will challenge strongly for a starting position. When introduced the big Tralee man, looking fitter than I have ever seen him dominated the skies catching some fine ball.

And on that point in relation to high fielding around the middle of the field the new rule in my opinion suits Kerry down to the ground as we are as good in this department it appears  as any in the country. Will the mark be retained next week end? Kerry should certainly support it as the sight of a player fielding high from the kick out over the heads of friends and foe and then been surrounded and swarmed by  five or six of the opposition is no addition the our game.  And then to see a player whistled for over holding or dragged to the ground following a great bit of fielding for me anyway takes from the occasion.  Paul Galvin had a tremendous outing and was literally lifting of the ground with fitness. Back in defense, picking up breaks and firing over three beautiful points only proved once again that his selection by one and all as the best player in the country last year was richly deserved. The selectors will keep their fingers crossed that the Finuge man will be available for all games, he is absolutely vital to the cause. You never miss the water till the well runs dry.

I thought the sending off of Monaghan's Dick Clerking for a pushing Paul Galvin in the face while warding him off was very harsh and while it necessitated a free certainly did not warrant a sending off. Look at it from this point of view. If it was the other way around and Paul had got his marching orders for a face push, not a punch let me emphasis, then I would be saying that the Finuge man could go away and play basketball as the rules in that game are now been applied in many instances to intercounty football.  Charismatic Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney had strong word for me after the match in relation to this referring aspect of our game and maintains the men in the middle are utterly confused with all the rule changes and being told by one and all how to do their job. I will return to this at a later date. 

It would have been a far easier victory if Colm Cooper had not gone off injured. Let's hope his eye injury is only superficial and that there is no actual damage to the eye itself.  He too is absolutely vital to Kerry's continued progress. Daniel Bohane and Brian Sheehan are now pushing strongly for a place and it would be fitting if the St Mary's Caherceiveen man copper fastens his place and leads the Kingdom in the push to retain the title. He had an excellent outing last Sunday and is a great example as one who takes the good with the bad and strives even harder. The panel is looking far stronger now and with Mike McCarthy back in training its all systems go. The selectors like last year will bring the Kilcummin man along slowly and ease him into a position that suits him and the team. Exemplary man management by Jack and his men to persuade Mike back into harness.  Finally the goal that Kerry scored in the 17th minute of the second half typified for me all that is great and beautiful  in Kerry football. Paul Galvin's exquisite pass to Barry John Keane, the youngster having a brilliant outing won possession (one of his strongest points) and all in one movement without it seems looking floated a beautiful diagonal pass to Kieran Donaghy, he fielded superbly, a deft basketball past to Brian Sheehan, the captain picked his spot and the back of the net was bulging before the keeper even moved. Great stuff. It's a long road to the All Ireland final  but I belive Cork, Kerry, Dublin and mayo will be the last four left standing. However my greatest wish is that a resurgent Down side reach the final stages and met Kerry. A lot of old scores to be settled there. What an occasion that would be.  Kerry's appetite, freshness, spirit and sheer  determination to succeed is amazing after all the mileage they have amassed. What an exemplary bunch of footballers we have.

Finally, no joy for St Brendan's in the Hogan Cup final last Saturday. The general consensus around Dublin by their followers before the game was that the Killarney lads were really up against it. A view I fully concurred with. And it proved so as a magnificent St Colman's side gave a superb performance and the Sem. was really never in it from the word go. The Down boys (that county again) had an arrogance and a swagger about their play. Chris Clarke their centre forward is as good a college player as I have ever seen and not far behind him was full fordward Jerome Johnston. From one to fifteen they were brilliant. The Killarney lads never gave up and we can be sure of one thing and that is everyone involved will have learned many harsh lessons fro this Croke Park outing. They are I believe all young enough again next year but unless what has been learned in this defeat is not put to good use and a new level over all is attained then this years great voyage will have been in vain. One of the secrets of Kerry is that our teams always learn more from defeat than victory.

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