Tralee’s tricky test in title defence

TRALEE CBS open the defence of their Corn Uí Mhuirí title today with a tricky first round tie against fellow Kerry side Coláiste na Sceilge in Milltown.

The defending champions were impressive winners of their 15th title last March against St Brendan’s and with two Frewen Cup (U-16½) winning teams to pick from, are expected to be in the hunt for senior honours again this year.

The Green will be backed by five of last year’s winning team: Barry Shanahan, Barry John Keane, Niall O’Shea, Cian Counihan and Wayne Guthrie. Both Shanahan and Guthrie were member of this year’s Kerry minor team beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The latter was called up after the Munster final defeat by Cork and made a telling contribution at midfield.

Coláiste na Sceilge won three consecutive titles early in the century, but have struggled since. Former county senior coach Jack O’Connor is back lending a hand, but says his team will be very young, with 10 under 16.

“We have put in a bit of work, drawing with ISK and beating Dingle in our group in the Kerry colleges championship, but Tralee will be a far more difficult opponent. From what’s I’ve seen, themselves and St Brendan’s are likely to be in the shake up.”

Over the years St Flannan’s have caused numerous upsets winning games they were not expected to. They shocked Tralee in the 2006 semi-final before succumbing to DLS Macroom in the final. The Ennis college set out on this year’s campaign with a first round game against Choirca Dhuibhne (formerly Dingle CBS) in Glin today and have every reason to be confident they can turn this Kerry side over also.

Intermediate School Killorglin have been out of the honours list since 1996 when they went all the way to national glory with a team that included Mike Frank Russell, now the holder of five All-Ireland senior medals with his county.

They face one of the Corn Uí Mhuirí specialists Coláiste Chríost Rí, who are presently going through a valley period, in Glenflesk tomorrow and it’s well within their compass to win this game particularly with Kerry county minor player John Buckley in their side.

Críost Rí official Mick Evans is concerned about the lack of preparation for his side. “We’ve had to cancel training because clubs who are still involved in county championships, have instructed players not to play with their school”, he said.

“Twelve months ago a presentation was made to the relevant authorities about the clash between clubs and schools. Matters have got worse rather than better as a result and from talking to teachers, we are beginning to wonder is it worth our while continuing.

“What is happening is detrimental to the schools. I’m not blaming any individuals. The system is the problem and it must be tackled sooner rather than later”, he said.

Brian O’Sullivan is a definite non-starter for the Capwell side as he had a cruciate knee injury. “We are travelling to Glenflesk tomorrow more in hope than confidence”, said Evans. “We’ll be looking to Jonathan Collins, Ian Leahy, Shane Martin, Dave Twomey and Darren Farry to produce big games for us.”

St Brendan’s who came very close to beating Tralee in last year’s final, will field 10 of that team which will include county minors Bryan Russell and Cian Tobin for their opening game against Glanmire Community School in Clondrohid tomorrow.

Team official Michael Leahy is confident enough his charges can enjoy another good season. “We won our two Kerry Colleges games (O’Sullivan Cup) against ISK and Dingle and if we get off to a winning start in Munster tomorrow, we’ll be there at the finish”.

James O’Donoghue and Padraig O’Connor are two talents footballers who will complement Russell and Tobin and it would be something of a surprise if the Sem are beaten.

All games have a 1.30pm start.

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