Kerry manager Fintan O’Connor hopes the Kingdom hurling public will come out to see the All-Ireland champions in action tonight when Limerick visit Austin Stack Park in the Munster Hurling League (throw-in 7.30pm).
“It will be a massive test for us,” O’Connor admitted, “because, in fairness, to them they probably have 25 lads on their panel playing Fitzgibbon Cup hurling and have been playing hurling for the past eight to 10 weeks with their colleges, so they will be sharp, flying and buzzing around.
“It is hugely exciting to have All-Ireland champions coming down to Tralee the Thursday night before Christmas, sure where would you get any better?
“We would love a big crowd to give it a real boost and those are the games you want to be playing in. It should be a good night and exciting for everyone when the All-Ireland champions have come to town.
“We are getting ready for Antrim in late January, that is our goal so this game and Tipperary on January 5 can only bring us on.”
O’Connor is delighted to have extended his spell in charge of the Kerry seniors.
He recognises Kerry remain a work in progress but hopes that by the end of the three-year term, younger players emerging from minor and U-21 ranks will have made progress in the senior set-up.
“It is lovely to have won two U21 Bs over the past two years and you would be hoping that some of those fellas would come through. Some of them like Shane Conway, Brandon Barrett, and Jason Diggins were nearly established already in the senior set-up from last year. There is definitely talent.”
Kerry are without the retired Tom Murnane, while Daniel Collins will be out for a while with a back problem. “Tom retired after the Antrim game this year and he owes Kerry hurling nothing,” O’Connor said. “He was a great leader and will be hard to replace.”
KERRY: M Stackpoole (Lixnaw, Captain), S Weir (Crotta O Neills),B Murphy (Causeway),E Leen (St Brendan’s), J Diggins (Causeway),M Boyle (Ballyduff), F MacKessy (St Brendan’s), Daithi Griffin (St Brendan’s), B Barrett (Causeway),J Conway (Crotta O Neills), M O Leary (Abbeydorney), M Leane (Ballyheigue), J Goulding (Ballyduff), S Conway (Lixnaw),D Goggin (Causeway)