Any meaningful analysis of our forthcoming first round game vs Feale Rangers is nigh impossible given the lack of knowledge surrounding the composition of the North Kerry side and the lack of any recent known form – what we do know is that in keeping with the traditions of their predecessors they will present a formidable challenge, a never say die attitude and no little skill given the calibre of the players available to them.
Though all their clubs now operate in the county junior championship they nevertheless possess some fine players in county senior Anthony Maher, recent All Ireland minor medallists Bryan Sweeney, Niall Collins & Barry O’Mahony along with the likes of Damien Somers, Padraig Quille, Conor Cox and Shane Stack all of whom have represented the division with pride in recent years.
Their 2017 campaign ended in round 3 when losing out to Kenmare having beaten West Kerry in Gallarus in the first round only then to lose out to Rathmore in round 2 – they were competitive in all these games and but for some wayward shooting could have been closer to Kenmare than the 5 point defeat suggests. Their preparation, not unlike many other divisional sides has been disrupted due to the hurling commitments of the Finuge and St Senans contingent and with players working away from base – however, obstacles like this have been overcome before and they will fancy their chances at home in Listowel.
For our part, reaching a division 1 league final represents significant progress under Micheál Quirke’s stewardship but league form will count for very little once the action gets underway in Listowel – what it has provided is the nucleus of a settled side that has learned how to win tight games as was evidenced in the opening round in Templenoe and in the away game with Spa. It has also introduced some of the younger players to the world of senior football and the likes of Darragh McElligott, Ryan ” Chucky” Carroll, Gearóid Savage, Tom Hoare and Karl Mullins have all responded in kind gaining valuable experience in the process.
It has also provided an opportunity for other players to emerge and its fair to say that both Ross O’Callaghan and Tommy Walsh have been the standout performers across the 11 game league.
Ross has improved from his fine championship season last year and can be considered one of the lynchpins of our defence – he has been a real leader this year in all our games, stamping his authority on the edge of the square and more than once has added energy from the back when it was needed – this was evident in the final league game when he had the better of his duel with Paul Geaney, restricting him to just one point from a placed ball.
Tommy too has provided much needed leadership and apart from his immense contribution on the score board has often been our ” go to ” guy when the games go down to the wire – its fair to say that when the fat was in the fire in the games with Spa and Templenoe that his ball winning ability and composure were the reasons we came out on top – he has been an ever present in our league games and an inspiration to the younger members of the panel.
In summary, whilst it’s hard to predict the outcome with any degree of certainty a loss in Listowel would be a shock – we have been in good form in the league, the returning Kerry players have added a freshness and an edge in training and given our recent form we should be good enough to advance to the winners round.