This coming weekend sees the third round of matches in this year’s National Football League. After a draw at home against Galway followed by a draw away to Armagh, Kevin McStay’s team are back on home turf this coming weekend.
Our opponents this weekend, under the Saturday night lights at MacHale Park, are All-Ireland champions Kerry. The game is scheduled to throw in at 7.30pm, Seán Hurson of Tyrone is the ref and it’s being broadcast live on TG4.
While it’s not long since we played Kerry – we met them a total of three times last year, losing all three, with our final meeting the All-Ireland quarter-final where defeat to them brought down the curtain on our inter-county year – it’s a good while since we welcomed them to MacHale Park as All-Ireland champions.
Indeed, by my reckoning, having perused the results archive here on the blog, this last happened as far back as 2008. That was the infamous ‘Spoongate’ meeting, from which we emerged with a one-point win, thanks to a late Austin O’Malley winner.
It’s also a fair while since we beat Kerry on home turf. Their one-point win over us in Tralee last year was their first win over us down there in the League for thirteen years but it’s now getting on for nine since we beat them at MacHale Park.
Since that 2014 victory, we’ve lost to them at home in 2016, 2018 (an all-tempered game, in which Evan Regan suffered the second serious injury that befell him against Kerry) and 2020 (the final match we played before the shutters came down for Covid that year). We’re definitely overdue a win over them on home turf at this stage.
Who needs a quick reminder of what Kerry have been up to since we last played them? Okay, you asked for it.
After they ended our Championship hopes last June, Jack O’Connor’s team went on to claim Sam for the first time since 2014, beating Galway in what was a closely contested final. Like us, they’re on two points from two games in this year’s Division One campaign but, unlike us, they’ve both lost and won a game already this year.
The defeat came in the opening round up in Ballybofey. Kerry fielded a very experimental side and lost out to Donegal by a point, Paddy McBrearty striking late with the winning score.
They hit back last weekend, though, putting three goals past Monaghan down at Fitzgerald Stadium as they eased to a facile 3-16 to 0-14 win. Paudie Clifford came off the bench to score a goal that day and he’s one of a few first team regulars – Seán O’Shea being another – who are expected to be available for selection for Saturday night’s game.
Every outing in this year’s National League is important in its own way. From our point of view, this one certainly is. Ever since we had the temerity to get the better of them in the League final in 2019, they’ve been beating us for fun so it would be great if we could stop the rot the next evening. From their standpoint, of course, they’ll want to continue piling the pain onto us.
So, what’s it to be? An overdue home win over them or a sixth straight loss in all competitions to them? Anyone for the draw?
Let’s finish, then, with the usual pre-match poll: what’s the temperature like for this one? It’s time to vote on that.
How will we do against Kerry?
- Win (43%, 366 Votes)
- Lose (41%, 352 Votes)
- Draw (16%, 139 Votes)
Total Voters: 857