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Kerry face acid test against bang in form Westmeath 2016-05-07 08:28:00

Leinster SHC Round Robin Group RD 2 - Kerry v Westmeath Preview

Kerry face acid test against bang in form Westmeath

By Murt Murphy

Legendry US College Basketball Coach John Wooden once said “Winning takes talent –to repeat takes character”. Kerry have been winning of late but now face dangerous and bang in form opponents Westmeath so now character will be required if they are to achieve their goal of making the Leinster SHC quarter-final.

What adds to the intrigue of this game, which will throw in at the Austin Stack Park Tralee on Saturday afternoon at 3pm, is that Kerry were not over impressive in their win over Carlow last Sunday while Westmeath were on fire as they gave Offaly a 14 point trimming. So a game that many had earmarked as a banker home win for the Kingdom, suddenly becomes a game fraught with danger and unless Kerry steps up markedly on last week’s slightly lethargic effort against Carlow, then Kerry could be in a winner take all game against Offaly in two weeks’ time.

Michael Ryan’s Westmeath will arrive in Tralee full of confidence that they can halt Ciaran Carey’s side in its tracks. Westmeath will remember fondly their last visit to the Kingdom, when they hammered us 3-18 to 0-12 in the league but it was a game that turned Kerry’s season around.

Westmeath have a mixture of youth and experience and defenders Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville and Aonghus Clarke, Eoin Price is a free scoring midfielder and others of note include Robbie Greville, Liam Varley and Niall O’Brien. When you throw in Cormac Boyle, Alan Devine and Derek McNicholas, you can see a seriously talented outfit.

Kerry make one change from the side that beat Carlow last week with Brendan O’Leary coming in for Colum Harty and manager Ciaran Carey was happy to have won last week, but felt they team played below par “ I would be satisfied with the result. The performance probably dipped slightly alright. It came across to me that they were a bit tired today and it was evident in the first-half in relation to hooking and blocking. The turnovers wouldn’t have been at the same standard as against Laois. But I was pleased with the second-half.”

The Patrickswell legend is wary of Westmeath and has been following their progress “Yes, I have seen them few times this year and they are a good side. They are a different kettle of fish to Carlow. They are a better side and will take some beating”

But Carey is happy to have survived his first Leinster outing; “Extremely happy that first time in the round-robin we’re after coming away with a win. It’s great to come away with a win in your first game and there’s another 40-45% in the team.”

So this game promises to be a thriller and should not be missed. Kerry will be relying on the ball winning of the O’Leary brothers Michael and Brendan but big games will be required from midfielders John Griffin and Daniel Collins who will have to pick up the breaks.

Kerry’s defence will have to really get up close and personal with their opponents led by the experienced Patrick Kelly, Darren Dineen and Tom Murnane and Bryan Murphy, Jason Diggins and Keith Carmody will hook and block at every opportunity.

If the free scoring Kerry attack gets enough ball, then Kerry can win this, as John Egan, Mikey Boyle, Shane Nolan and young Jack Goulding have been hitting big numbers.  As stated, it’s a game that could go either way but if Kerry rediscover the spirit and work rate they displayed against Laois, then they get the nod to win by a couple of points.