Kennedy Cup 2011: Previewing Kerry’s Chances by Padraig Harnett:

2,7, 23, ? – and the question is what will be the next number in the sequence? These are the finishing positions for Kerry in the Kennedy Cup over the last three years and it is from these that the seedings are calculated. It was back in 2008 that we had that wonderful run to the final, only to be cruelly denied by the DDSL. So what are expectations this year?

Firstly we are top seeds in the Group, seeded 6 overall, followed by Sligo /Leitrim (16th), South Tipperary 17th and North Tipperary 32nd. The way the group stages are structured is that Kerry will face North Tipperary first, at 5pm on Monday next. Then on Tuesday we will face South Tipperary at 10.30am and in what should be the group decider we meet Sligo/Leitrim at 5pm. Depending on where we finish in the Group, and the aim must be to top the group, it determines which competition we play in from Wednesday on – Group winners in Kennedy Cup, 2nd into Bowl, 3rd into Shield and 4th in Trophy.

The 2011 Kennedy Cup Squad is under the management of Maurice Guilfoyle, aided by assistants Brendan Hogan and John Kerley and Colm Dunlea as Head of Delegation.  Eight clubs are represented led by The Park with 5 followed by Killarney Athletic who have 4 players. The other clubs who have players on the squad are Killarney Celtic, Inter Kenmare, Kingdom Boys, Killorglin, Castleisland and Listowel Celtic.  The Park and Killarney Athletic dominated the scene in the League this season and deserve to have the majority of players on the squad.

Taking an in depth look at the squad starting with the last line of defence two keepers will be heading to Limerick – Ray O’Shea (Inter) and Darragh Curran (Killarney Ath). Ray has made a dramatic recovery having broken a bone in his hand just over two months ago but thankfully has played a number of friendly games and is back to full fitness. Curran is also a fine keeper so this bodes well.

Defensively the management will have six to chose from – Colin Griffin, Chris Rodgers, Sean Dukes, Chris Leen, Dale Mulvihill and Sean Kelliher. Again these players have been to the fore all season and whatever configuration the management go for Kerry should be very strong at the back.

Midfield will be chosen from Shane McLoughlin, Shane Lowth, Conor Randall, Paddy Collins, Mike McCarthy, Ronan Buckley and Padraig Griffin and Brian O’Seanachain. I think this is a good blend of both brains and brawn with a number of players that can pick out a pass.

Up front and we will be hoping the goals come from the likes of Calvin Foley, James Duggan, Mike Casey and Adam O’Shea. Again these players have demonstrated great ability this season and have amassed a great tally of goals during the season.   

So finally my hopes – I think Kerry will win their first two games and will have enough to get past Sligo Leitrim and top the Group. But the Kennedy Cup has really tightened up over the past few years with Emerging Talent programmes in all Leagues so to top this group will take a gigantic effort. We wish them all the Best.