National League

Kerry beat Monaghan in Inniskeen

April 5th, 2011
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was certainly another very productive trip up North last Sunday as Kerry proved far too good for a very disappointing Monaghan side and now with Down visiting the Kingdom next Sunday it's a rare opportunity to make it a hat trick of victories over the men from up around that neck of the woods.  One of the great pleasures of being in the position of following Kerry both near and far as match analysist for Radio Kerry is that it gives one the opportunity of meeting new people and visiting new places. And last weekends journey proved correct once again the old adage "travel broadens the mind" whether it be at home or abroad. An early Saturday start gave us the opportunity to visit one of the truly great wonders' of the world, Newgrange in county Meath. Constructed over 5,000 years ago (about 3,200 BC), makes it older than England's Stonehenge and even older than the great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Build all those centuries ago by a farming community it's a fascination place and stunning in its magnitude and sense of history.

It was Kerry first ever visit to Inniskeen, a small rural community just a few miles from Carraigmcross and the magnificent complex erected there by this small community of just eighteen hundred people brings one face to face with the real rural grassroots heartbeat of the GAA.  This little club was founded in 1888 and purchases eighteen acres about six years ago and now boasts three full sized all weather playing pitches, superb stand and facilities to cover all eventualities.  Over four million pounds has gone into the complex and the main pitch where Kerry played has the very same dimensions as Croke Park. The main Northern Railway line once ran down the area now the centre of the playing pitch and the local national school would always delay the 11 o clock break for the children for five minutes to allow the train to pass by. 
However one name that kept cropping up as I chatted to the various people of the Inniskeen club was of course that of their local renowned Irish Poet and Novelist Patrick Kavanagh who died in 1967. Author of such great works such as Raglan Road, Tarry Flynn and The great Hunger amongst many Kavanagh played in goal for Inniskeen and his memory is preserved at the Patrick Kavanagh Literary Center and we also paid a visit to his birthplace in the townland of Mucka. I spoke to one man who told the story with great pride that it was his father who dug Kavanagh's grave and added the twist to the tail that the great man might be buried in the wrong plot. He also informed me that when he was young his parents always warned not to talk to "that man' if you meet him on Inniskeen road as he will write something about you. A fascinating story of a wonderfully talented person born and raised on what he himself referred to "on the stony grey soil of Monaghan".

Then of course there was the football. The year continues to unfold, the championship draws nearer and the Kerry panel is developing very nicely. The selectors must be complimented on the way they keep resting players, trying out younger men and alternating people in different positions. They will now have a very good idea of their starting fifteen and more importantly as I continuously point out have reliable experienced replacements on the panel capable of coming on and performing up the high standards required in the white heat of the championship. And most importantly of all there is great competition for places on the first fifteen and also on the panel. Paul Galvin and Declan o Sullivan returned for a full hour's competitive football l. Both performed very well  even if they did appear to tier a bit in the second half; however all these two great players need is plenty match practice. Declan's goal was superbly taken as his strength and football skill enabled him to go past defenders and goalie for the decisive first half goal. The hunger by both to compete is as savage as ever. Thomas Mac A tSaoir had an excellent outing and his fielding in particular will be a huge plus in his favour when the championship jersey is thrown to him or Brendan Kealy in the dressing room.  Kerry in my opinion won the midfield battle again and the pairing now rests between Davis Moran, Anthony Maher and the whole hearted very strong Currow man Seamus Scanlon.

Of course Monaghan were poor on the day, however Kerry completed the job they had journeyed to do and that was the bottom line as far as they were concerned. . It was surprising I must say to see the home side win the toss and decided to play against the very stiff breeze, (or was it a strong wind), what's the difference? Kieran Donaghy and his two corner men were outstanding. Kieran o Leary had probably his best game for Kerry winning every ball high and low that came his way while David Geaney continues to impress. He will get even better as time goes by. Shane Enright and Brian Maguire will put pressure on defenders in relation to winning the jersey and of course Thomas o Se and Eoin Brosnan will add even more competition for starting places. And then there is Colm Cooper, enough said there.  It would be a great addition to preparations if a league final place was secured. Cork must lose and Kerry win, that's the bottom line. An added build up to a final together with the Down game would suit the preparations well. It's either that or a trip to sunny climes where trainer Alan o Sullivan would have the opportunity to bring the lads up as Dr Eamonn o Sullivan used to say "a few more degrees of fitness".  It's now all about upping the fitness, avoiding serious injury, deciding on the best starting fifteen and serious hard work for all involved.  Kerry will be there in the final shake up the way things are going however it's too early yet to make final predictions.

Fogra; Our deepest sympathies to former Kerry captain and South Kerry great Ned Fitzgerald on the death last Sunday of his wife Mary. I was fortunate to have the great pleasure of spending time in the company of this lovely gentle lady back in 1997 when she travelled to New York with Ned to see her illustrious son Maurice give one of his great football exhibitions against Cavan in a National League match following Kerrys All Ireland win. She died following a long illness while being cared for so lovingly by her family. To her husband Ned, daughters Cathy, Christine, Marie and Michelle, sons Eamon, Seamus, Maurice and extended family we extend our sympathies.

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