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Christy Ring Cup Hurling Semi-Final – Kerry 1-18 Down 1-17
HEROIC KERRY RECORD FAMOUS WIN WITH JUST THIRTEEN MEN UP IN DOWN
Christy Ring Cup semi Final Kerry 1-18 Down 1-17
By Murt Murphy for kerrrygaa.ie
The legendry Babe Ruth summed it up “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Kerry travelled to Newry today Saturday, probably feeling that they were playing against a stacked deck when the rules had been changed for these years Christy Ring Cup semi-finals and with six minutes to go, when they were reduced to thirteen men, they must have felt that they had upset the Hurling Gods. However Kerry proved that there is no substitute for guts as they fought like tigers. In those final nerve wracking minutes and they had their four points lead wiped out as the game headed into three minutes of injury time. However, while adversity causes some men to break and others to break records, Shane Nolan was entrusted with the task of taking a free, which if converted might well see Kerry reach the Christy Ring Cup final.
Nolan stepped into the breach because Darragh O’Connell was on the bench at this stage, so was James Flaherty and so was Mike Conway. Everything was left to Phil Taylor of the team (Shane can hit the bull in the kitchen from his garden shed. As an All-Ireland Darts Champion) to hold his nerve. He struck the ball high towards the posts – it seemed to swirl and drop like a scud missile. But had it gone over? One umpire retrieving his head from the skies pointed to the other umpire as the Kerry players, management and supporters held their collective breaths, the white flag was raised and Kerry were a point in front.
However Down had one last attack from puck out but when the ball dropped in the Kerry danger zone, another Crotta man Andrew Keane cleared the danger and that was it. Kerry had fashioned a famous win from a game that was full of incident. Kerry started poorly and was 1-3 to 0-3 behind after ten minutes but soon levelled the contest before pulling 1-12 to 1-6 clear by half time. Kerry dominated the third quarter and were in cruise control, leading 1-17 to 1-9 but then Gary O’Brien received a second yellow and Kerry began to falter. They still had a six point lead when they lost the outstanding Tom Murnane to a second yellow ( or possibly worse) and then Down took over and five points in a row from Paul from Paul Braniff had the sides level as Kerry faced to the prospect of an injury time loss.
But then came that Shane Nolan free and Kerry had crossed the Rubicon and now the Promised Land awaits- Croke Park on June 4th and a meeting with Wicklow. It was a superb team display with John Griffin and Andrew Keane vying for Man of the Match.
Kerry: Bernard Rochford, James Godley, Tom Murnane, Eamon Fitzgerald, Colin Harris, Jason Casey, Andrew Keane, Darran Dineen (0-1), John Griffin, Darragh O’Connell (0-7,7f), Mikey Boyle (0-4), Gary O’Brien, James Flaherty, Shane Nolan (0-4,1f), John Egan (0-1) Subs: Michael Conway (1-1) for Flaherty, Padraig Boyle for Conway, Liam Boyle for O’Connell
Down: Graham Clarke, Michael Morris, Fintan Conway, Sean Ennis, Kevin McGarry, Connor Woods, Michael Ennis, Andy Savage (0-2,1f), Eoin Clarke, Stephen Clarke (0-1), Gareth Johnson (0-3,3f), Conor O’Prey, James Coyle, Paul Braniff (0-7,4f), Brendan Ennis (1-2) Subs: Ciarán Coulter for McGarry, Scott Nicholson (0-2) for C O’Prey, Aidan Clarke for Coyle
The Kerry Senior Hurling Team Vs Down , Christy Ring Cup, Semi Final is as follows:
1 Bernard Rochford Killeagh, Co Cork
2 James Godley Kilmoyley 3 Tom Murnane 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. Michael Boyle, Captain Ballyduff 12. Gary O’Brien Ballyduff
13 James Flaherty Lixnaw 14 Shane Nolan Crotta O’Neills 15 John Egan St. Brendan’s
Subs as follows: 16 John Brendan O’Halloran Kilmoyley 17 John Fitzgerald Causeway 18 Adrian Royle Kilmoyle 19 Mike Conway Lixnaw 20. Padraig O’Grady Ballyduff 21. Liam Boyle Ballyduff 22. Brian Murphy Causeway 23 Paud Costelloe Ballyduff 24 Colm Harty Causeway 25. Padraig Boyle, Ballyduff 26. Padraigh Monson Glen Rovers, Co Cork
Manager: John Meyler
Selectors: John Hennessey & Sean O’Shea
Coach/trainer: Joe O’Connor
KERRY GOES UP TO DOWN FOR VITAL CHRISTY RING CUP CLASH
Christy Ring Cup semi final – preview
By Murt Murphy for kerrygaa.ie
It may not be very fair but at this stage there is no good in complaining about having to make the long trip to Down for the Christy Ring Cup semi final on this Saturday, it’s the reality of the situation so Kerry must just get on and try and win the game. There is little doubt but that Down are the strongest of the three teams left in the competition along with Kerry so the Kingdom have really drawn the short straw. In fact Down should be in the other semi final but they were caught without a number of key players in their Christy Ring opener against Derry so had to come the back door route to the semis. Kerry on the other hand won their opening two Christy Ring Cup games, away to Kildare and then at home to Meath but did not play as well as they can but manager John Meyler has always maintained that its about getting through to the next round and so far Kerry have managed that.
The Kerry boss is also on record as saying that Kerry’s primary objective this season was to maintain their Division 2 status and this they have done with a bit in hand so winning the Christy Ring Cup would be a bonus. Remember the heartbreak last year in Croke Park when Kerry were caught by an injury time sucker punch against Westmeath- it would be nice to get back to Croke Park ( or wherever) this year and make up for last years agonizing loss. Make no mistake about it, the winners of this Down/Kerry clash will be warm favourites to win it out though Wicklow cannot be underestimated. Kerry and Down both played in Division 2 of the NHL and when they met in Killarney earlier in the year, Kerry chiselled out a narrow win, that was too close for comfort.
I wrote in my report on that game as follows “Kerry had to withstand a tremendous second half fight back from fourteen man Down , before they claimed their first brace of Allianz league points in this amazing Division 2 contest, played at the Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney on Sunday afternoon winning on a 2-23 to 3-17 scoreline. Kerry revelled in the wide expanses of the Killarney venue, in the opening half as they racked up 2-16 to Down’s 1-5, with Darragh O’Connell contributing 0-7, while Aidan Boyle and John Egan found the Down net, in the 19th and 21st minutes.
Down’s main threat in that opening half was big full-forward Gareth Johnson, who scored 1-3, including a 27th minute penalty after he had been fouled himself. However Kerry lost their way completely in the second half as Down resumed with three quick points, from James Coyles and two frees from Gareth Johnson but then Johnson was red carded in the 46th minute for a dangerous pull on Tom Murnane. It looked curtains for Down, but Kerry were outscored 2-12 to 0-7 in the second period. with Down’s two goals coming in the 67th minute as the took advantage of some shocking Kerry defending.
In fact it took a late point from Kerry’s man of the match Liam Boyle to ensure victory and a brace of league points” So that should remind all Kerry players and followers of the task this Kerry side faces on Saturday. The Kerry team on Saturday welcomes back three key players from injury in the case of Colin Harris and John Griffin and Andrew Keane comes back after suspension. There will be four changes from the team that beat Down back in February, with Adrian Royle, Padraig O’Grady, Aidan and Liam Boyle missing out while into the side comes, Eamon Fitzgerald, Jason Casey, Gary O’Brien, and James Flaherty come back in.
Down have been most impressive since their loss to Derry, they have beaten Armagh by 17 points and then beat Meath in the quarterfinal by 11 points and remember we only managed to beat the same Meath team by three points a week earlier. Down also won three games in Division 2 of the NHL despite losing to Kerry and that puts the challenge on Saturday into perspective. Kerry boss John Meyler is aware of the extent of the challenge that faces his young side “I would not look at travelling to Newry to play Down as being a negative. We travelled there last year and beat them, though they were without “Magic Johnson, it will help to focus the players as they will see this as a major challenge. If we are harbour realistic ambitions of competing at Munster Championship level in two or three years then a game like this will do us the world of good.”
John Meyler is refusing to be negative about the game or Kerry’s chances “Look while the focus is now on the Christy Ring Cup, we have look at the bigger picture. This is only year two of a plan to improve Kerry hurling. The reason that I keep going on about developing younger players is that we are looking two or three years down the road. We have a superb group of young hurlers who will only get better with time.” Meyler is aware of how tough it’s going to be against Down “When we met Down in Killarney, their backroom team said, we will meet ye later on in the year and they were right. They are a very good side and won three games in Division 2 of the League. They have two of the best forwards in the competition in Paul Branniff and Johnson. All the teams left in the Cup have made great strides.
We are always confident that we can do well and I would like to think that there is new dawn coming to Kerry Hurling and we are looking to take Kerry hurling to another level. This is one of the toughest challenges that we are going to face but might just bring the best out of us on the day” So it’s a big day for Kerry hurling, but the players have shown that when the chips are down and they face their biggest challenge that they rise to the occasion in true Kerry fashion. They will have to put in a might seventy minutes to win this one but maybe they will do the business in Newry. Let’s wish the team, John Meyler and his management team the best of luck!