With the Allianz Football and Hurling leagues done and dusted for another year, the 2014 Championship is every county’s focus. John Ivory takes a look at the Munster teams and evaluates each county’s chances in both codes for the coming year in the Province. This week he looks at Kerry.
Manager: Éamonn Fitzmaurice
Kerry’s league campaign saw them secure Division 1 status in unspectacular style. Two of their three victories came against Kildare and Westmeath, who both got relegated. The other came against Micky Harte’s Tyrone side, who, in a great team performance by Kerry, were blown away by the Kingdom’s superb forwards. However, Kerry lost to Dublin, Derry, Mayo, and Cork, and despite playing well in most of these games, Kerry supporters won’t settle for moral victories.
Kerry’s three wins came in their last four league ties which will give them some amount of confidence, however Cork ended this momentum emphatically in their last outing. Last year’s All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dublin was viewed as a courageous, but disappointing end to a good first season under Fitzmaurice.
The Kerry public will be demanding another Munster title as they are reigning Champions. The 21st/ 22nd of June will see Kerry take on either Clare or Waterford. Kerry will expect to win against either side, with no disrespect to their opponents. The only real threat on Kerry’s Munster radar will be arch-rivals Cork. Having lost badly to the rebels in the league, Kerry will need to step it up should they encounter Cork in the Munster final. They will need Legion clubman James O’Donoghue to continue his scintillating league form to achieve this. However, every player needs to raise their game this year in the wake of the loss of talisman, Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper, with a cruciate knee injury. Long term injury to Kieran Donaghy could also hinder Kerry’s campaign. The Kingdom have high expectations for Munster, and need to deliver again this year.
Manager: Eamonn Kelly
The Kerry Hurlers do not compete in the Munster Senior Championship, so we will look at their Christy Ring Cup chances off the back of their league form.
To say Kerry’s hurlers had an outstanding league in 2014 would be an understatement. On their way to topping Division 2A, Kerry beat everyone who crossed their path, finishing with a maximum 10 points from five games. They would go on to defeat Carlow in the Division final to capture the 2A crown.
Many feel the hurlers from the Kingdom were hard done by not to have been promoted at this stage. Instead, they had to face Offaly in a relegation/promotion match, which they lost.
Sharpshooter Shane Nolan led the way up front throughout the league, amassing an impressive total of 3-48, which saw him top the scoring chart for their tier. Despite their set back against Offaly, Kerry started their Christy Ring Cup campaign with a 32-point demolition of Derry in Tralee in Round 1 last Saturday. Kerry have a strong spine to their side in Tom Murnane at full-back, Sean Weir at centre back, John Griffin at Midfield, Mikey Boyle, Padraig Boyle, John Egan and Shane Nolan in attack, among others.
Kerry are still waiting to find out who they will face in Round 2, after Kildare and Wicklow played out a draw. Going on their form so far this year, Kerry are strong favourites to win only their second Christy Ring title, the first coming in 2011. Kerry have been tipped for the second tier All-Ireland competition in other years and couldn’t deliver, they will be hoping this year will be different.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.