The weather – not to mention the current geopolitical situation – might be wild and unstable right now but, in contrast, the build-up to our NFL Round 6 clash with Kerry is quiet and fairly low-key. In case it had slipped your mind the match takes place on Saturday evening at Austin Stack Park in Tralee (throw-in 7pm), where Fermanagh ref Niall Cullen will be in charge of proceedings.
The game is being broadcast live on Eir Sport and on RTÉ2. This is of more than academic interest to me as I’m not heading south myself for the match and so will be following the live action from the sofa.
There’s no word yet, of course, on starting line-ups for the game. There was, though, a piece in yesterday’s Irish Examiner (here) that provided some information on where Kerry stand personnel-wise heading into this one.
The bad news, from their perspective, is that both David Moran (tendinitis) and Paul Geaney (back) are both definitely ruled out. Killian Young is also a long-term absentee for them.
More ominous news from our standpoint comes with the revelation that current Young Footballer of the Year David Clifford and former Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue could both feature in Tralee. Neither of them have played any part in Kerry’s League campaign so far – that piece, by the way, confirms that Kerry’s five-from-five start marks their best League opening since 1965 – but they could get a run out at some point on Saturday night.
David Clifford enjoyed a sensational first year at senior level for Kerry in 2018. Just out of minor, he was their star forward in a Championship campaign that saw them win Munster without breaking sweat before they eventually came unstuck in the Super 8s. The young Fossa player picked up both the YFOTY award and an All-Star at the end of last year but he’s missed all the action this year due to shoulder surgery.
James O’Donoghue is a player who has had no luck at all with injuries in recent years. The 2014 FOTY has suffered a series of setbacks in the years since then, greatly hampering his inter-county career in the process. His most recent problem is a hamstring/calf muscle issue and it has kept the Killarney Legion clubman on the sidelines so far this year.
There’s no fresh news at all from our side of the fence. As I mentioned last week, Paddy Durcan, Ger Cafferkey and Evan Regan are expected to be available for selection for Saturday night, with Cillian O’Connor perhaps also coming into the frame for this one. Ciaran Treacy is, however, likely to miss out and Seamus O’Shea is now out for the rest of the League campaign with ankle ligament trouble.
So, shorn of any news on that front, it’s worth pointing you instead in the direction of a piece by Mike Finnerty in this week’s Mayo News with Alan Dillon. In it the former Mayo captain talks about why he feels his Ballintubber clubmate is an ideal choice to captain the county team this year.
Finally, just a heads-up about a bucket collection that’ll be held in and around Austin Stack Park on Saturday night. This will be in support of the fundraising drive for Kieran O’Connor, the ex-Cork footballer who is suffering from a rare form of bone cancer – details on his story here.
That Kerry GAA Twitter account, by the way, also says that there are a few tickets for the game on sale in SuperValu this morning so, if you’re still on the hunt, you might want to pop into an outlet near you to check this out.