“ Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose”
The quote from John le Carré probably best sums up the forthcoming senior relegation play off on Sat evening next vs Na Gaeil.
The outcome will see Tralee town, once home to 3 senior clubs, reduced to just one due to the restriction on only 8 senior clubs being allowed compete in the county championships.
The cut throat competition will see us, as current Munster senior club champions, fighting to retain our senior status against an up and coming Na Gaeil side who are only finding their feet at senior level following their success in the intermediate grade in 2021 when defeating Beaufort.
The lofty heights of the 8th Jan last are never - to - be - forgotten - memories as we lined out in Croke Park in the All Ireland senior club semi final only losing to eventual winners Kilmacud Crokes by a goal - emigration has been our toughest opponent since then with the loss of Karl Mullins, Cormac Coffey, Jack Savage, Gavin O’Brien and Cian Sayers and the return of Padraig Neenan to his home club, Cortoon Shamrocks.
In their absence, we have performed creditably, retaining our division 1 status after an extra time play off win over town rivals Austin Stacks and only losing to Spa and Mid Kerry by two and one points respectively in the county championship.
The ship has been kept afloat by seasoned veterans such as Ross, Shane ( Brosnan), Con, Barry John, Tommy and David plus the brio and passion of teenagers Jake, Ben and Darragh - Tom Hoare’s performances in the county championship have propelled him to a possible county call up of which he would be most deserving.
The management team have coached and guided the team through this rocky period in the best way possible despite the hand they have been dealt.
Na Gaeil will be wondering how they find themselves in this position too when they had the upper hand in Templenoe in their final club championship game where they were the better side for much of the game.
The concession of a last minute goal to Templenoe in the 38th minute sealed their fate however, following earlier losses to Kenmare Shamrocks & Spa.
They will have gained much confidence from their county championship campaign though where they defeated both St Brendans and Dr Crokes before losing to Dingle in a game where both sides had already booked their places in the final 8. Their quarter final defeat to Mid Kerry was probably the only blot on an otherwise fine campaign.
If one was to look at form to predict any possible outcome, Mid Kerry provide the example as they have played both sides in the current county championship on successive weekends.
Whilst we dominated much of the proceedings in Beaufort and but for our wides count could very well have triumphed on the day, it must be remembered that Mid Kerry had already qualified for the quarter finals at that juncture.
Na Gaeil were their ¼ final opponents and with a display of power and pace all over the pitch, Mid Kerry ran out convincing winners - this was a much improved performance from the Mid Kerry side who have since gone on to beat Dingle qualifying for their second county final in a row.
It’s a hard game to call, with many duels to look forward to, not least the midfield battle between David /Tom and Kerry’s All Ireland final pairing of Jack/Diarmuid and the outcome of this tussle may well decide who will remain senior - it's unlikely to lead to any great celebrations in either Strand Road or Killeen.