Ahead of tomorrow’s Munster club junior football decider against Tipperary’s Kildangan at Moyvane (2pm), not alone are Kerry champions Dromid flying the Kingdom’s flag but they are also expected to maintain their district’s exemplary record in the provincial competition.
In the last few years, South Kerry has emerged as a real hot-spot for provincial and All-Ireland club success. Dromid’s divisional neighbours, Skellig Rangers (2008) and St Mary’s (2010), won the Munster and All-Ireland crowns while St Michael’s/Foilmore claimed national intermediate honours in the year between.
Dromid manager Michael Anthony O’Connell admitted that such history weighs heavy: “Without a shadow of a doubt there is that pressure on us because several of our surrounding clubs have done so well outside of Kerry.
“All we can do is pretend then those things never happened and not let what other teams have achieved affect our preparations. We just need to be fully focussed on ourselves.”
Pinpointing the high standard of both club footballers and the local championship in South Kerry as just two of the secrets to the sector’s provincial and All-Ireland success, O’Connell has challenged his Dromid Pearses team to emulate their local rivals’ achievements at Munster level, with Kerry star Declan O’Sullivan their key man.
“Declan is a big game player and we will need his experience tomorrow. Everybody knows what he has achieved with Kerry but when he is with Dromid, he is just an individual in a team effort. We know how good he is, and he has shown that countless times for us, but there are other outstanding players on the team as well,” O’Connell explained.
While Kerry clubs have won 20 of their 22 games in the Munster junior club series since 2000, and have won six of the last seven finals (Cork side Canovee in ‘07 broke Kerry’s dominance) it’s understandable that Dromid Pearses are favourites to defeat Kildangan tomorrow.
But O’Connell stated: “The tag of favourites doesn’t exist. John Evans has done wonders for Tipperary football over the last few years and you can see that in the results. At inter-county level, they have beaten Kerry at U21 and minor grades in the last few years, and they won the All-Ireland minor football this year. This is a Munster final. Kildangan deserve to be there.
We are well aware of their players and what they are capable of, and we are under no illusions that it will be very tough. It will go to the wire.”
With wins over Meelick (2-12 to 1-9) and Kanturk (0-12 to 2-4) en route to tomorrow’s Munster junior final, Dromid will be fancied to beat a Kildangan team that defeated Sean Finns (1-9 to 0-10) and Sliabh gCua (1-10 to 1-6) on their journey to this decider.