National League

Kerry and Dublin never fail to excite and thrill

March 3rd, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

As always a meeting between Kerry and Dublin be it in league or championship never fails to excite and thrill. And so it was last Sunday in Fitzgerald Stadium we witnessed all the passion, never-say-die spirit and sheer determination to win as Kerry finished victorious over their age old rivals for the first time playing at home in over a decade. This game had something for everyone, great scores, end to end movement, no swarming, one red card issued, seven yellows and two blacks and all in my opinion spot on by exemplary referee Eddie Kinsella.

 I heard a lot of angry mutterings about the referee from some Dublin supporters as I left the field following the game but really they can't have any complaints in this area as the Laois man gave one of the best performances under trying conditions I have seen for a while.  Now of course there were numerous incidents of "let me at him, hold me back" breaking out around the field and these were unsightly and we can do without this sort of stuff, but the day, the weather, the age old rivalry and the burning desire not to bend the knee to your opponent was always going to spark off such incidents.

This Kerry squad of players continues excite and to develop, and yes of course they are All Ireland champions but players such as Barry John Keane, Jonathan Lyne, Jack Sherwood, the Geaney's, Stephen o Brien Johnny Buckley, Fionn Fitzgerald, Pa Kilkenny and Paul Murphy are really still really learning their trade in my opinion.

These are exciting times for Kerry followers. Still relatively young in the intercounty sense these youngsters are getting more street wise as they say, stronger physically, more comfortable in the harsh trying, hard hitting competitive world of national league football and readily accepting the mantle being handed down to them by recently retired Kingdom legends.

Kicking 1-17 away to Derry and 0-15 yesterday is a massive reversal of last years league performances sending out a clear message that unbelievable as it might seem this squad and the central word here is "squad" that Eamon Fitzmaurice and his side line generals are assembling are in many ways still in transition. Last Sunday's game was one and lost in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. In the opening period we had seen a string of Kerry attacks break down as players attempted to play short straight kick passes into their forward area. Dublin were gaining a, lot of possession and their lighting fast inter-passing movements had the Kerry defenders at full stretch.

Behind at the short whistle, 0-7 to 0-6 the half time dressing room instructions changed the whole course of the game in Kerrys favour. Dublin goalie Shane Currie was completely frustrated as his short kick out strategy was nullified and as he was forced to launch a string of long kick outs and the brilliant pairing of David Moran and Anthony Maher literally as they say cleaned, up fielding everything around the middle. 

And then the game plan had changed also, and from the restart it was rout one into Captain Kieran Donaghy in the square and the big man was in his element breaking, fielding and slipping basketball passes left, right and center. Kerry outscored the visitors 0-8 to 0-1 in a blistering eighteen minutes and the foundation for victory was well and truly laid.

A vicious hailstone shower had now swept across the field, and the Kerry men reveled in the Arctic conditions. They kicked some brilliant points. Barry John Keane, getting better and better raised two white flags, his Kerins o Rahilly team mate David Moran surged up field as the hail stones reached their most vicious and from under the St Finans  corner landed a superb angled point. Johnny Buckley, a man oozing with class and style, so comfortable on the ball added another and the Dubs despite a late rally thanks to a Bernard Brogan goal had been literally left trailing in the wake of the "Kerry hailstorm".

Killian Young was superb when he came on; Jack Sherwood continues to grow in stature, his bravery in the face of the oncoming forwards brings something very special to the defense and then what about Brian Sheehan? The best free kicker I have ever seen in Gaelic football but the former All Star mid fielder is just not there for his frees, his contribution to the Kerry cause is immense.

For me his free kicking is one of the magical sights in present day football. Brian placing the ball on the carefully chosen spot, the few steps back and also one to the left, hands on hips he sizes up the angle, distance and wind. And then the striking action practiced in the Con Keating Park Caherceiveen thousands of times just like fellow South Kerry greats  Maurice Fitzgerald Mick o Connell and Mick O Dwyer before him.

The beautiful perfect easy striking action, the ball soaring and arcing towards its target, he watches, the umpire reaches down for the white flag, and he turns away without the slightest outward hint of satisfaction. There must be a lesson here for all young players, the fast disappearing skill of the free from the ground. Brian Sheehan is one of the very few remaining experts in this area. He is the best I have ever seen, hold you breathe, and enjoy the moment, whether he scores or not the next time you see him in action because sadly it's a dying art.

Fogra; Next Friday  week will see The Killarney Legion players and supporters come together to celebrate the past year as their Annual Awards night takes place in the East Avenue Hotel Killarney. Always a special occasion for the hard working men and women of the Legion, it gives them a chance to relax and socialize always from the continuous hurley burley of the playing fields. The Club had a very successful year in 2014 capturing seventeen trophies covering all age groups. Last year renowned horse trainer and former legendary jockey Jim Culloty was the guest speaker on the night and this year the club are honored to have that inspirational young lady from Millstreet Joanne Riordan as their special guest. One of the most amazing human beings I have ever had the privilege to meet Joanne was born with a rare disease known as Total Amelia which means she has no limbs. One of only seven people in the entire world living with this disability. Two years ago she was launched into world focus when she gave a keynote speech at the UNs International Telecommunication Union in New York. Such a special person.

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