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Christy Ring Cup Hurling Final – Kerry 2-21 Wicklow 2-8
Meyler eyes return to big stage for Ring victors
From the Irish Independent newspaper
Kerry 2-21 Wicklow 2-8
Christy Ring SH Final
Kerry were crowned champions at Croke Park on Saturday and afterwards manager John Meyler said that it’s time to start thinking about a return to the Munster championship. The Kingdom last played in the premier provincial competition back in 2000, but Meyler believes the progress in the county could lead to them being back in the senior grade within three years. “This is very satisfying. This is our second Christy Ring final in a row, and we should have won last year, but were caught by a lack of experience. We finally put two good halves together, which we hadn’t done all year; we finished well, saved our best hurling until last really — that was a real plus,” he said. “Even before this game, I said we’d have to sit down with the county board, with the clubs, with the GAA itself and sort this out — what are we going to do? “We’ve won two U-21 ‘B’ titles, we’ve won a minor ‘B’, Causeway College won the schools, we’ve won the Christy Ring, we’ve stayed in Division 2 — we’re on the way up, but we’re two or three years away from competing (in Munster),” Meyler added.
The former Wexford boss believes there is merit in the Christy Ring champions being given a shot at the Liam MacCarthy by being entered into the qualifiers. “Yeah, that wouldn’t be bad. It would be a good experience and the more of that the better. We’re two or three years away from competing against the top teams as the Munster championship is hugely competitive — Tipperary are really opening up a gap, then you’ve Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Clare all pushing on,” he said. But before any of that is ironed out, there is also Meyler’s managerial future to be decided with Saturday’s victory marking the ends of his two- year term. He refused to be drawn on the subject afterwards and was afraid of tempting fate — citing his bitter experience in Wexford, where he was unceremoniously dumped after two years at the helm there. “The last contract I had, I was fired, so I’m not talking about this now. My two-year contract is up, I’m finished, so it’s up to the county board next, and it’s up to the players themselves whether or not they want to go on another level.
“I’m not discussing it — when I was in Wexford they kicked me out the door, and I thought I had done reasonably well in the two years.” Captain Michael Boyle used his acceptance speech to ask the Kerry county board to give the hurlers a holiday for this victory, and he was even more forthright about them keeping Meyler. “He has done phenomenal work with Kerry and that was the icing on the cake today — if he doesn’t get another contract there’s something wrong,” he said. Kerry were deserving winners as a younger and sharper Kingdom side were a step ahead of a battling Wicklow all through. Andrew Keane and Jason Casey were the pillars in defence, while up front, Darragh O’Connell was in sharp-shooting form and ably assisted by Shane Nolan, Mike Conway and John Egan.
Midfielder Eamon Kearns tried hard to inspire the Garden County, but apart from a period in the first half, they struggled to make headway with dual star Leighton Glynn closely watched during he match. In the 22nd minute of the game Andy O’Brien won a penalty for Wicklow, but Jonathan O’Neill’s shot was well saved by Darren Dineen on the line. Kerry led 1-10 to 0-6 at the break and when O’Connell burst inside to score a goal in the 37th minute it was a tall order for Wicklow, who improved when they brought on James Quirke in attack. But there was no way through a tight Kerry defence who were protected well by goalkeeper Bernard Rochford, a member of the All-Ireland-winning Cork panel in 1999.
SCORERS — Kerry: D O’Connell 1-9 (4f, 1 ’65’), S Nolan 0-5, J Egan 1-1, M Conway 0-2, J Griffin, M Boyle, G O’Brien, J Flaherty 0-1 each. Wicklow: J O’Neill 1-4 (3f, 1 ’65’), J Quirke 1-1, A O’Brien 0-2, D Hyland 0-1.
KERRY — B Rochford 9; P O’Grady 8, J Godley 7, E Fitzgerald 8; C Harris 7, J Casey 8, A Keane 9; D Dineen 8, J Griffin 7; M Boyle 8, G O’Brien 8, D O’Connell 9; J Egan 7, M Conway 7, S Nolan 8. Subs: J Flaherty 7 for M Conway (51), L Boyle 7 for O’Brien (63), J Fitzgerald for E Fitzgerald (68), C Harty for S Nolan (68), A Royle for Egan (68).
WICKLOW — W O’Gorman 8; J Connors 6, G Keogh 6, B Cuddihy 6; S Kelly 6, L Kennnedy 6, G Bermingham 6; E Kearns 8, R Leddy 7; A O’Brien 6, E Glynn 6, L Glynn 6; T Doyle 6, J O’Neill 7, D Hyland 6. Subs: J Quirke 8 for T Doyle (h-t), E O’Neill 6 for J Connors (41), W Collins 6 for Bermingham (58), J Murphy 6 for E Glynn (65), E Dunne for S Kelly (69).
Ref — G Duffy (Antrim)
Christy Ring Cup Final
Kerry 2-21, Wicklow 2-8
From the GAA.ie web site
Kerry eased to a comfortable victory with a 13 point win over Wicklow in the Christy Ring Cup Final at Croke Park today. Kerry started the scoring with a point from Shane Nolan with Wicklow recording their first score on 7mins through their right corner forward, Andy O’Brien. Minutes later, Nolan again came to the fore with a well taken goal for Kerry. Points were exchanged before Kerry’s Darragh O’Connell pointed a beautiful long range effort. Despite Kerry’s dominance, Wicklow earned a penalty on 22mins, resulting in a great save on the line from Kerry’s midfielder John Griffin. A great block from Eamon Fitzgerald denied Wicklow a certain goal on 30mins before three points from Kerry closed out the half on a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-6 in favour of Kerry.
The first score of the second half went to Kerry before the matches’ top scorer, Kerry’s Darragh O’Connell with a final tally of 1-9 scored a magnificent goal on 36mins. Wicklow fought back with another penalty on 38mins when substitute James Quirke was denied by the Kerry goalie but followed up with a low drive to the net for a Wicklow goal. Kerry dominated the next 10mins rattling off a number of points before a Wicklow point on 47mins. The Kerry fullback, Godley denied a certain goal on 52mins before another period of ascendancy for Kerry brought them further out of reach. Despite a goal on 67mins from Wicklow’s Quirke and goal attempts right on fulltime, Kerry’s extra class and guile on the day saw them ease to a 2-21 to 2-8 victory.
The Kerry Hurling team to play Wicklow in the Christy Ring Cup Final on Saturday in Croke Park at 2pm is as follows:
1 Bernard Rochford Killeagh, Co Cork2 Padraig O’Grady Ballyduf 3 James Godley Kilmoyley 4 Eamon Fitzgerald Causeway 5.Colin Harris Ballincollig, Co Cork 6. Jason Casey Ballyheigue 7 Andrew Keane Crotta O’Neills 8 Darren Dinneen St Brendans 9 John Griffin Lixnaw 10 Darragh O Connell Abbeydorney 11.Gary O’Brien Ballyduff 12. Michael Boyle, Captain Ballyduff 13. Shane Nolan Crotta O’Neills 14. Mike Conway Lixnaw 15 John Egan St. Brendan’s
Subs as follows: 16 John Brendan O’Halloran Kilmoyley 17 James Flaherty Lixnaw 18 Liam Boyle Ballyduff 19 John Fitzgerald Causeway 20. Adrian Royle Kilmoyley 21. Brian Murphy Causeway 22 Paud Costelloe Ballyduff 23 Colm Harty Causeway 24. Padraig Boyle, Ballyduff 25. Padraigh Monson Glen Rovers, Co Cork 26. Patrick O’Keeffe Glenflesk 27. Aidan Boyle Ballyduff, 28. Darren Wallace St Brendans. 29. Brendan Brosnan Lixnaw 30. David Fitzell (Kilmoyley) 31. Darren Delaney (St. Brendans) 32. Anthony Fealy (Causeway) and 33. Jason Leahy (Causeway)
Manager: John Meyler Selectors: John Hennessey & Sean O’Shea Coach/trainer: Joe O’Connor
From Croke Park to Semple Stadium – that’s John Meyler’s plan for Kerry hurling
By Murt Murphy for kerrygaa.ie
Kerry hurling boss John Meyler does not do a “give them what they want interview” full of fifty/fifties,” sure they are an up and coming team” and “we will give it our best shot” – no John Meyler does not suffer from the modern day managers paranoia with the media – he simply shoots from the hip and calls it as it is.
It always refreshing if not a challenge to talk to the former Wexford boss, because you never know what he is going to say next and he will never skirt around a contentious issue- sometimes he starts his answer half through a question!
John Meyler has done a lot for Kerry hurling – remember that famous day back in 1993 when Kerry shocked the hurling world by beating Waterford in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship – Meyler was at the helm then and by no accident of fate if Kerry could win the Christy Ring Cup, that’s where Meyler wants to head with Kerry again – back into the Munster Championship but more about that anon!
Meyler is happy to be in the Christy Ring Cup final and reflects on the campaign to date “We have played three matches to date and two of them were away from home. Kildare was the first match and we struggled. It was just six days after we finishing our league campaign and we were missing a number of players through injury including John Griffin. We played Meath at home and we were without both John Griffin and the suspended Andrew Keane along with the likes of Mike Conway who had to pull out before the game so we stuttered at times during both those games but always finished well. I think we scored about 1-5 at the end of both those two games so we showed the necessary character.
Then we had to travel to Newry for a semi final meeting with Down and it was a long trip on Fri/Saturday for the game but we had Colin Harris, John Griffin and Andrew Keane back and that strengthened us up considerably so it was great to have those players back into the squad and back into the team”
Meyler refuses to accept that in Newry just like in Killarney and during key games in the National League, that Kerry have a habit of not finishing off teams, of allowing big leads slip and in Newry Kerry led by as much as nine points at one stage of the second half “I said before we travelled to Newry that if we go up there and beat Down, then we would be a in good position to win the Christy Ring Cup and I think that’s the important thing. We went away to a difficult venue, after a long journey and we had a full squad that did the business. We were reduced to thirteen men with six minutes to go and it showed great character from the players left on the field to hold out. It was great to see Mikey Boyle catching the last puck out when we were up a point and you needed somebody to show leadership, Mikey who is the captain did what had to be done and that’s what character is all about.
I think last year I was driving them on more, but this year they are taking more ownership of what is required to be done in clutch situations and it definitely got us through to the final in Newry.”
Meyler makes no secret of the fact that he has loftier ambitions for this Kerry squad and Kerry hurling down the road and believes that this year while the public might not appreciate it- he feels Kerry hurling is in a better place “Look last year we played in Division 3 and won it easily enough but it probably wasn’t much good in terms of improving the standard. This year, we played in a very competitive Division 2, played seven games, won two, lost five. The main objective this year was to remain in Division 2 and we achieved our aim. Last year we won Division 3 and we had a months break before we went back training for the Christy Ring Cup while this year it was a straight turn around and into two matches and then a three week break to the semi final. That probably suited us because the lads were used to the pitch of the hurling in Div 2 so it has benefited us.
But then going in now to the Christy Ring Cup Final now without Tom Murnane is a bit a of negative but we have all the other players back so we are travelling to Croke Park to win”
Meyler admits that the Kilmoyley defender is a huge loss “Tom has been our most influential and most consistent player for last two years because he is a big game player. Last year when we were in trouble against Down we put him in fullback and he did the job. While he is superb centre back or half back, he really has made a huge difference to us at fullback and he will be a huge loss. But look the character of this team is all about coping. Look when I thought after four games in the League that four points had us reasonably safe I decided that against Limerick, Clare and Laois we could try fellows and they were able to gain valuable experience. That’s why when we went into the Christy Ring Cup without John Griffin, Colin Harris and Andrew Keane, we were able to put fellows in who had played three or four matches in the league and that gave them the experience they needed which is important. So we have qualms about throwing people in anymore when we need them because they all have hurled against strong opponents and they can get to the pace of the game quickly. We could not do that in the past”
Meyler makes no secret of the fact that he is going with a young side to Croke Park but he emphasizes that this is year two of a three or maybe a five year plan for Kerry hurling and this team is a mere work in progress with a loftier ambitions down the line “No I am not afraid of going to Croke Park with a young side. Young people today have no fear – no fear of a big challenge and no obstacle faze them. These lads have been used to winning, including two U-21 All-Ireland’s, all at B level but they know what is required from the training we have been doing. They know where the bar is and they will not go below it. The younger lads are the future – Colm Harty is back, Padraig Boyle , still a minor is back in, and there a are a few more young fellows starting to come on board. So its work in progress and I think my three year plan may well be a five year plan. I want to be ready for the Munster Senior Championship down the road that’s the plan – anything else along the way is a bonus. The bottom line is that I want Kerry hurling to be able to compete at Munster Championship level – simple as that – whether its next year or three years down the line”
So can Kerry beat Wicklow on Saturday “Last year we let ourselves down badly because we did not play against Wicklow in the semi final at Nenagh. Andrew Keane got sent off after four minutes and we were all over the shop. Wicklow should have beaten us and we were just haunted to get away with a win in the last few minutes. We had to put Mike Conway back to centre back and James Flaherty came on and scored four points. While I was delighted with the win I was really annoyed with the lads because I felt that we lacked a certain bit of composure at vital times. But this year is different. I respect Wicklow- they won Div 3B and then Div 3A and they are up in Div 2 next year and they are in the final of the Christy Ring Cup. They have a dangerous full forward line and O’Brien caused us all sorts of problems last year, and I am sure Leighton Glynn will be back and when you throw in Jonathon O’Neill, they have serious forwards. Look we know they are a good side but my concern is to get Kerry right on the day and if we play as we are capable of playing, I am confident that we can do it”
The Kerry boss sums up his thinking on what and where Kerry hurling must go from here when asked what winning the Christy Ring Cup would mean to him and Kerry “ It would mean that we would be back in September to start training for next years Munster Senior Hurling Championship and looking forward to travelling to Semple Stadium to play Tipperary next May” Meyler quips- which returns us to the beginning again – The Wexford native has lofty ambitions for Kerry hurling – this Saturday he is hoping to take another step along the way in Croke Park by helping Kerry claim the Christy Ring Cup for the first time!