Kerry's Joe O'Connor poses for a photo with fans after the Munster final against Clare. [Inpho/Tom Maher]

Kerry welcome upcoming tests

Over the years Kerry GAA supporters have been spoiled, as they have qualified for 62 All-Ireland finals, and while they have lost a few in recent years, they still hold the record of 38 titles. Dublin, who have held the upper-hand against the Kingdom in recent years, are catching up, with their current total being 31 titles.

That’s all by way of explaining that Kerry folk are still a bit over confident when it comes to the Sam Maguire Cup competition. I asked one of my nephews last week if he was going to see Kerry play Monaghan in Killarney on Saturday in the first round of the Round Robin series, and he said ‘‘Ah, I’ll wait for the quarter-finals when it’s knock-out.’’ 

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Well at least he said he didn’t say he would wait for the final. Kerry might not get to the All-Ireland final this year, but they should qualify for the quarter-finals. They were lucky enough against Cork in the Munster semi-final and then got another good test from Clare in the Munster final. Kerry’s other opponents in the Round Robin series will be Louth and Cavan, which should mean that Jack O’Connor’s team will make the quarter-finals. O’Connor reckons that the good tests against Cork and Clare will stand to them in the coming weeks. 

He said: ‘‘We scored 5-14 against Clare in the Munster last year and thought we were going great. Then we got a real lesson two weeks later from Mayo, who came to Killarney and ended an unbeaten run at Fitzgerald Stadium stretching back to 1995. We have had two good tests now against Cork and Clare and fellas’ feet will be on the ground. You would be thinking from here on in that fellas would be coming into their peak mentally and physically. You just need to get your house in order now going into the group stages and try and hit the ground running then in the quarter-finals.” 

There are three other first round games on Saturday, all of them very attractive. After beating Mayo in the Connacht final, Galway will fancy their chances against Derry in Salthill, but I don’t think it will be easy and after their Ulster semi-final defeat against Donegal, I reckon Mickey Harte will have Derry in top shape again. Mayo should be too strong for Cavan in Castlebar and Cork will definitely get a good test from Clare in Ennis. 


On Sunday hurling takes centre stage with three big games in Leinster and two in Munster. I think it’s fair to say that Henry Shefflin’s arrival in Galway has not really turned their fortunes around. Galway really miss the influence of Joe Canning, who often won games on his own for the Tribesmen before he retired in July 2021. On Sunday Galway travel to Corrigan Park in Belfast where they will get another good test from Antrim. Kilkenny should be too strong for Dublin in Parnell Park, while Wexford should account for Carlow at Dr. Cullen Park. In Munster Davy Fitzgerald returns to Cusack Park in Ennis where he often guarded the net for the Banner. This time he will be charge of Waterford, who will hoping to make the All-Ireland series with a point at least.



English Championship club Stoke City have released Ciaran Clark but hope to persuade his Irish international colleague Enda Stevens to stay for another season. Clarke joined from Newcastle United, while Steves moved to the Potters from Sheffield United. The conclusion of the regulation English Football League campaign last week has prompted clubs to confirm their retained lists and who they are releasing. Defenders Clark, 34, and Stevens, 33, were part of another struggling Championship campaign for the Potters, which ended in survival following three wins on the run-in. Stoke manager Steven Schumacher was drafted in last December from Plymouth Argyle and he is finalising his plans for his first full season in conjunction with Jonathan Walters, the former Irish international appointed four weeks ago as technical director of his former club. Meanwhile Preston North End captain Alan Browne from Cork, is expected to end his decade-long association with the club after the parties were unable to broker a contract extension.


Former Irish soccer captain Richard Keogh has retired from club football. The central defender, who will be 38 in August, won 26 Irish caps and captained the team at one stage. Born in Harlow, Richard qualified for Ireland via the parental rule. He started his career with Stoke City in 2004 and played for several clubs in the English lower divisions. He was best known for his performances for Derby County where was also club captain. Richard made 316 Leagues appearances for the Rams and finished his playing career with Forest Green Rovers. 

The former player said: “To represent the green jersey was the impossible dream and to play in a major tournament like Euro 2016, was the dream come true. The camaraderie, the matches, the shared moments with fans, these are memories that will stay with me forever. My career surpassed all my expectations, full of unforgettable moments that not only made me a better player but also a better person.” 

Keogh says he is now looking forward to the next chapter of his career, where he is fully focused on coaching.



Pat Spillane has spelled out the reasons why he thinks RTE’s “The Sunday Game” has gone downhill. The former Kerry footballer, who hosted the programme for one season and served as a pundit for several years, claims that the Sunday night programme, has become too scripted, too formula-driven, too safe 

He said: ‘‘Sadly, ‘The Sunday Game’ has lost its x-factor. The era when it was a must-watch programme dictating the GAA narrative for the week ahead is now a distant memory. I watch the live matches on Sunday afternoons and record the Sunday night programme. I rarely get around to watching it and only occasionally do I bother with the analysis. What made ‘The Sunday Game’ so special? It reflected what the GAA is all about: the craic, the color, the passion, the banter and the arguments.’’