With Footballer-of-the-Year nominee Darran O’Sullivan relinquishing his place in Ireland’s International Rules squad to play for the divisional outfit, and with Donnchadh Walsh and former Kerry forward Sean O’Sullivan in fine form, Kerins believes Mid Kerry’s marquee men are the key to defeating reigning champions Dr Crokes.
“Darran, Donnchadh, Sean O’Sullivan are the senior guys. They are Kerry players. They are the fellas, as well as Mike Burke in midfield, that drove us on three years ago when we last won the county title, and we will be looking to them again on Sunday,” Kerins said.
“Darren is a great leader for us and has been playing great all year, Donnchadh is very important around midfield, just like Mike Burke is, and Sean then is so dangerous in attack. They have been playing well all year for us and hopefully they all have one more big game in them.”
Taking over the Mid Kerry captaincy from Milltown/Castlemaine team-mate Ciarán Kelliher who ruptured a cruciate knee ligament in May, Kerins has pinpointed the divisional side’s quarter-final victory over Rathmore three weeks ago as a crucial moment.
“The key for us then was to get a win, no matter how we played, against Rathmore. That’s all we wanted, to just get the win,” the Mid Kerry full-forward said.
“Momentum is so important for divisional teams. Once we beat Rathmore, we got that bit of momentum and we knew then that the competition would be run off pretty fast. That suits us.”
Facing into what he describes as “the biggest two weeks” of his football career — his club Milltown/Castlemaine compete against Waterville in the Kerry IFC final on Sunday week — Kerins is quick to praise the approach of manager Tim Coffey.
“We haven’t done that much in terms of training nights because Tim trusts us that we are training with our clubs. Every time we get together it’s all challenge matches. That’s what kept us going, kept us together,” Kerins said.
“We have played Nemo Rangers, Monaleen, teams all over the country. In 2008 with James Sheehan we did the same thing and that was a recipe for success. With divisional teams it’s all about games, getting the team together and getting players playing together.”
Kerins also feels that Mid Kerry need to take the game to Dr Crokes on Sunday.
“This Crokes team is one of the best club teams that Kerry has ever seen. I wish to God that they were beaten already, to be honest,” Kerins said.
“They are an awesome team, the benchmark for all sides in Kerry. Look at them lately, teams are keeping Colm Cooper relatively quiet but then Kieran O’Leary is running amok. They have fantastic forwards, fantastic players all over the field to be fair. They play as a collective, as a team. We will have to meet them head on.”
ONE of the Mid Kerry Board’s first tasks when they appointed Tim Coffey as senior team manager last year was to famously buy him his very first mobile phone in an effort to keep in close contact with the Beaufort farmer. And Coffey, who has a wealth of Mid Kerry GAA knowledge, can also call on his wife’s football experience, as she is none other than legendary Kerry ladies’ footballer Mary Jo Curran, who has won a record nine All-Ireland senior titles from that famous 1982 to 1990 all-conquering team. She also holds the All Stars record with 10 to her name.
SUNDAY’S clash may be one of the last games the Milltown-Castlemaine contingent in the Mid Kerry squad play for the divisional outfit. On Sunday week in Fitzgerald Stadium, the club bid to lift the Kerry IFC crown, which they last won in 2003, when they face Waterville. Marcus Mangan, Mike Burke, Brendan Delaney, Damien Murphy, Shane Murphy, Kevin McKenna, Colm Kerins, Donal Kelliher, Jerome Flynn and Cathal Moriarty are bidding to win two county medals in the space of a week.
For the first time in their history, Dr Crokes are attempting to win a county senior and U21 football double in the same year. David O’Leary and Daithí Casey are the two members of the starting senior side who were on that U21 team which defeated St Kieran’s by a point back in August. U21 players Sean Coppinger, Cillian Fitzgerald, Conor O’Neill, Brendan Falvey, Chris Brady, Keith O’Leary, Bryan O’Shea, Mark Egan, Shane O’Neill and Cian O’Neill are all amongst the senior substitutes.
TG4 will provide live coverage of Sunday’s decider in Fitzgerald Stadium. Coverage begins at 2.30pm, with throw-in at 3pm.
THE Austin Stacks team that won the 1986 Kerry senior championship will be honoured at half-time. Stacks beat Killarney, who drew their players from Dr Crokes and Legion, 1-11 to 1-9, with the following team and scorers: Michael Hussey, Eamon Marey, John O’Keeffe, Pat Slattery, Kevin Barry, Michael Counihan (Capt), John Galvin, Liam Kearns, Ger O’Keeffe, John Walsh (0-1), Brian O’Sullivan, John L. McElligott (0-3), Owen Moynihan (0-1), Mikey Sheehy (1-4), Ger Power (0-2). Sub: Seamus O’Sullivan for Galvin.