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2016 - A Review 2017-01-04 08:00:00

2016 – A Review

A very successful year on the intercounty playing front, however, the big prize has eluded Kerry footballers once again in 2016.

Overall it has been a very successful year on the intercounty scene and one that most counties would be very happy with, however, success here in Kerry is almost always dependant on how you do in the All Ireland Senior football championship and if that is the yardstick then on the face of it, 2016 may not have been regarded as a huge success.

The season began with Kerry getting off to a bad start in the League losing to both Dublin and more surprisingly Roscommon, the latter in Fitzgerald Stadium, but they then went on to win five on the trot starting with Down away and they followed that with tough encounters against Donegal in Tralee and Mayo in Castlebar before finishing in style against Monaghan and finally Cork in Tralee to qualify for the semi finals. They easily turned the tables on Roscommon for that defeat in Killarney in Round 2 but then in the League final before a full house in Croke Park, Dublin took full advantage of a numerically depleted Kerry side in the final twenty minutes to win by eleven points.

Kerry had a seven week break before they resumed intercounty action on June 12th in Fitzgerald Stadium where they easily accounted for Clare in the Munster semi final by nine points and in the final, again at Fitzgerald Stadium, they then had ten points to spare over a Tipperary side who had earlier surprised Cork. So Kerry headed for Croke Park relatively untested since the League final and the fact that they were again facing Clare, a side they had easily disposed of in June, did not entice too many Kerry supporters to make the long journey to Croke Park on the August Bank Holiday weekend.  A predictable eleven point victory over the Banner county sent Kerry into the semi final against a Dublin side who had earlier been given a tough test of their credentials in the quarter finals by Donegal before the Metropolitans emerged victorious by five points.

After a slow start, goals by Darran O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney saw Kerry lead by five points at the break but Dublin clawed that lead back during the third quarter. After a hectic finish, Dublin once again got their noses in front by two points and Kerry’s assault on Sam Maguire was over for another year. The foul on Peter Crowley that was not given in those dramatic final moments had a vital affect on the end result and when playing Dublin in such a highly charged atmosphere as was in Croke Park on that day you need those calls going your way.

Dublin certainly have the upper hand on their green and gold clad counterparts right now and no doubt Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his backroom team will have lost plenty sleep over the winter months wondering how they are going to displace the champions. With the possibility of one or two more of the seasoned players joining Marc Ó Sé in retirement, the makeup of the Kerry championship side for the coming year is uncertain, however, the talent coming through the Minor and Under 21 ranks in the Kingdom is the envy of every other county. Whether these young tyros are still a year or two away from taking over the mantle at senior level is the burning question – the coming year may tell a lot.

Another disappointing year for the Under 21Footballers

It was another disappointing year for Kerry’s Under 21 footballers. They defeated Tipp and Limerick but then went down by a point to Cork in the final. They did have a lot of injuries – fourteen players were sidelined at one stage but the wait for a Munster title that stretches back to 2008 still goes on. This coming year,  Kerry are home to Clare in Round 1 on March 8th and winners there play Waterford in Dungarvan a week later with the final fixed for March 29th.

Historic 3-in-a-row of titles for Kerry Minor Footballers

Kerry Minor footballers completed  a fantastic hat trick of Minor football titles when defeating Galway in the final in Croke Park. It was a feat last achieved by the Kingdom way back in the 1931 to 1933 era and this year they really lit up the minor scene with some outstanding displays on their way to the final. They scored an impressive total of 12 goals 105 points on their way to their 14th title which puts them three ahead of Dublin in the roll of honour. Some of those scores were really out of the top drawer and the point scoring in the quarter final in particular against Derry really stands out. On that day three players – David Shaw, Sean O’Shea and David Clifford – kicked five points from play each and of course the goal scoring exploits of David Clifford in particular, throughout the Summer were also exceptional. The Fossa youngster, who is eligible for the Minor grade again this year, had his goal in the final against Galway voted “Goal of the Season” by TG4 viewers while his goal for St Brendans in the Hogan Cup final was voted 5th best.

So a seamless transition on the management front from Jack O’Connor to Peter Keane for the third title with the same emphasis on teamwork and traditional type football maintained. This has certainly been a golden era for minor football in the county with the additional bonus of the All Ireland Colleges Hogan Cup title coming to Kerry in each of the three years with players from these colleges sides contributing handsomely to the success at intercounty level. The coming year will bring new challenges, not least of them the distinct possibility of a Munster semi final away to Cork with the losers exiting the competition as early as May 10th.

Junior Footballers win back to back titles for the first time

Kerry Junior footballers joined Cork at the top of the roll of honour when easily accounting for Mayo in the All Ireland final in Croke Park. It was a very satisfying victory for a number of reasons. Chief among them was the fact that Kerry put back to back titles together for the first time and secondly they had to do so with a new team as none of the finalists from the previous year’s victory were eligible to compete this year. It was very satisfying too for Manager Stephen Wallace who brought the team to the final on each of the three years of his tenure in charge. The future of this competition is uncertain right now, however, it is fair to say that the competition has served Kerry well over the last few years when it has catered for players of Under 23 grade making the transition from underage to senior status. A manager for the coming year has yet to be named.

Dr Crokes dominate the Club scene once again

After a two year break, Dr Crokes, under the shrewd stewardship of Pat O’Shea, are once again Kerry champions and of course not alone that, they are just sixty minutes away from a St Patrick’s day All Ireland final appearance. The Killarney side were most people’s favourites to lift the Bishop Moynihan Cup from very early in the year especially once Austin Stacks failed to build on the promise shown in the Club Championship and exited at the quarter final stage. No doubt Crokes were also glad to see South Kerry and Mid Kerry fall at the same hurdle while they themselves accounted for Kerins O’Rahillys on that October weekend. Neither Dingle in the semi final nor Kenmare District in the final could halt the Black and Amber side’s march to an eleventh title – and they lie just one behind Laune Rangers and Austin Stacks in the Roll of Honour. The All Ireland semi final meeting with Corofin on Saturday February 11th in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick will be a season defining game and one the whole county is already looking forward to.

Kenmare are Kerry and Munster Intermediate Club Champions

Kenmare defeated neighbours Templenoe to claim the Intermediate championship and gain senior status for the coming season. They then strolled to a facile victory in the Munster Intermediate Club Championship final to become the ninth Kerry club to win the title. That win sets them up for a semi final meeting with Lee Keegan’s Westport on Sunday January 29th in Cusack Park Ennis.

Glenbeigh-Glencar are finally crowned Junior Champions

After many years of heartbreak at Junior level, Glenbeigh-Glencar finally came good to become the first winners of the new Junior Premier competition and the first holders of the new Tom Keane Cup. They did it the hard way of course defeating Na Gaeil after a replayed final and they  were then crowned Munster Junior Champions to become the twelfth Kerry Club to capture that prestigious  title. They now face the Connaught representatives, Louisburgh of Mayo on Sunday  January  29th in a Cusack Park double bill with the Intermediate final.

Fossa are Junior Champions

Fossa are the county Junior Champions following a replayed victory over Beale. It has been a tremendous year for the East Kerry club being represented on the Kerry Minor winning side and then capturing their first county title at senior level. They also achieved promotion to Division 3 under the stewardship of John Evan.

Lispole are Co. Novice Final winners

Lispole are the Kerry Novice champions following victory over Tuosist in the final and they now  have a long wait before playing in the Munster Junior B Championship final against Wolfe Tones (Clare) or  Ballyhooly (Cork) on Sunday 29th January in Knockaderry.