Club commitments and injures have deprived the Kerry boss of several first-choice players with youngsters like Peter Crowley and Brian Maguire in defence and James O’Donoghue and Barry John Keane in attack, all offered starting berths.
The team, captained by Kieran Donaghy in the absence of Colm Cooper, who is unavailable due to Dr Crokes All-Ireland Club SFC involvement, features Paul Galvin at wing-forward, while on the opposite flank of the attack, Sean O’Sullivan returns to the fold after a two-year absence.
Kerry defender Killian Young insists he and his teammates are not gunning for revenge ahead of the glamour clash. “Starting off with a game like this it’s only natural that people will compare it to the All-Ireland final and talk about that game but it’s a new season and a fresh start, for both teams. What happened last year is over. We won’t be grinding our teeth thinking about last September, we have to move on.
“It’s a clean slate and both sides will have players playing that didn’t in the All-Ireland final. This is about the league now and we’re looking to progress on from last year and to improve, not to be looking back at last year. But in terms of a league opener, you can’t ask for a better game than Kerry and Dublin under lights in Croke Park.”
Young, heading into his seventh season on the senior panel, is even more excited about the new wave of talent on the rise in Kerry.
“The most exciting thing about this game on Saturday is to see the young fellas that are coming through, to see what they are about. It’s a fresh start for those, to start off the season on the big stage, out in Croke Park. It’s a massive experience for them. You get a great enthusiasm off the younger fellas coming through. They have matured and improved as players, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress in the league.
Meanwhile, Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy has named only four players who featured in last July’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier defeat to Galway in his team for the first competitive match of his second term in charge, against Kerry in the Waterford Crystal Cup in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday. Midfield duo Cathal Naughton and Cian McCarthy, wing-forward Luke O’Farrell and corner-forward Patrick Horgan are the only survivors from that game in what is an experimental line-up. Damien Cahalane and Christopher Joyce, members of last year’s Cork U21 squad, both get starting berths in defence as does Ross Cashman who has impressed greatly for Cork IT in recent seasons. Former underage stars Brian Corry and Ryan Clifford are both afforded the chance to impress in attack.
KERRY (SF v Dublin): B Kealy: S Enright; M Ó Sé, P Crowley; T Ó Sé, K Young, B Maguire; S Scanlon, B Sheehan; P Galvin, D O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan; J O’Donoghue, K Donaghy (capt), BJ Keane.
CORK (SH v Kerry): A Nash; D Cahalane, E Dillon, C O’Sullivan; C Joyce, R Cashman, T Kenny; C Naughton, C McCarthy; B Corry, P Cronin, L O’Farrell; P Horgan, E Murphy, R Clifford.
OFFALY (SF v Longford): K Meehan; J Gallagher, P McConway, S Pender; B Darby, S Sullivan, L Hiney; B Hanamy, N Smith; A Keenaghan, D Currams, A Sullivan; B Allen, A Mulhall, N Dunne.