Cork & Kerry GAA previews: Injuries make Stacks and Crokes vulnerable

Can unbeaten Feale Rangers, led by Martin Stack, Barry Mahony, and Bryan Sweeney, bridge a nine-year gap to the last time the North Kerry division reached the last four?
Cork & Kerry GAA previews: Injuries make Stacks and Crokes vulnerable

STILL STANDING: The Austin Stacks Team at the Austin Stacks v Mid Kerry Group 3 / Round 3 in Beaufort last month. Pic: Don MacMonagle

SATURDAY

Kerry SFC quarter-finals: Feale Rangers v Austin Stacks, Austin Stack Park (B Brosnan), 5.30pm

You could easily argue that Stacks are vulnerable here given their injury list contains first-team regulars Joe O’Connor, Fiachna Mangan, Darragh O’Brien, Dylan Casey, and Brendan O’Sullivan. Can unbeaten Feale Rangers, led by Martin Stack, Barry Mahony, and Bryan Sweeney, bridge a nine-year gap to the last time the North Kerry division reached the last four?

Verdict: Austin Stacks 

Dingle v Dr Crokes, Austin Stack Park (B Griffin), 7.30pm 

Mark O’Connor will feature at Tralee, but to what extent and where? Do the Dingle management start the AFL Grand Final winner or hold him in reserve? Do they use him at midfield or as an aerial target further forward? Paul Geaney and Barry ‘Dan’ O’Sullivan have both overcome recent knocks. Injury has robbed Crokes of Gavin White, Fionn Fitzgerald, and Micheál Burns. Their half-back line is now looking particularly light. In the trio’s absence, there’ll extra responsibility fall on the likes of Tony Brosnan, Brian Looney, Michael Potts, and Evan Looney.

Verdict: Dingle 

SUNDAY

Kerry SFC quarter-finals: Mid Kerry v Templenoe, Fitzgerald Stadium (P O’Sullivan), 1pm 

Templenoe won’t need telling that they must quickly rediscover the August form that took them into the club championship final. The momentum from that run appears to have all but dissipated. Mid Kerry should be full of beans after their eight-point win over champions Austin Stacks two weeks ago. There’s a lovely blend to Peter O’Sullivan’s side, particularly in attack where Fiachra Clifford, Eanna O’Connor, Jack O’Connor, and Liam Carey have been showing well. This quartet will work the opposition defence.

Verdict: Mid Kerry 

East Kerry v Kenmare Shamrocks, Fitzgerald Stadium (B O’Shea), 2.45pm 

We see no point in billing the last of the weekend’s quarter-finals as Seán O’Shea versus David Clifford. Given the spread of scoring talent in the East Kerry forward unit, this is Seán O’Shea versus the Clifford brothers, Dara Roche, Ruairi Murphy, and Patrick Darcy. We deliberately left James O’Donoghue out of this East Kerry forward equation as it remains to be seen if the appeal against his red card from Round 2 is successful. With or without the 2014 footballer of the year, the division should have more than enough.

Verdict: East Kerry 

Co-op Superstores Cork Intermediate AHC final: Cloughduv v Dungourney, Páirc Uí Chaoimh (P Lyons), 2pm 

When this pair crossed paths in the second round of Group B action, Cloughduv scored a narrow two-point victory. Dungourney have since overcome Aghabullogue, Midleton, and Sars, and so won’t lack for confidence in a final not many expected them to be involved in. As they have done in the key games en route to the decider, Dungourney will lean on Shane Hegarty, Ryan Denny, and All-Ireland minor winner Jack Leahy. Cloughduv, for their part, came through a belter of an extra-time semi-final against Lisgoold. Eoghan Clifford, Mark Walsh, and Brian and Mark Verling will drive their bid for promotion to the third tier.

Verdict: Cloughduv 

Co-op Superstores Cork Senior AHC final Courcey Rovers v Fr O’Neill’s, Páirc Uí Chaoimh (C O’Regan), 4pm 

The second of Sunday’s Cork finals where the two sides have already met in this year’s championship. That Round 2 meeting on August 7 finished with Fr O’Neill’s seven in front. Important to point out, though, is that Courcey’s top scorer this season, Richard Sweetnam, did not start that game and only featured for the last 22 minutes.

Both sides are blessed with three or four free-scoring forwards. You have Sweetnam, Tadhg O’Sullivan, and four-goal semi-final hero Sean Twomey on the Courceys side, while for Fr O’Neill’s, there is Declan Dalton, Billy Dunne, and Jason Hankard. This will be a high-scoring decider, but whichever defence can lessen the impact of the opposition’s dangermen will obviously put themselves in pole position.

So, is it to be back-to-back promotions for last year’s premier intermediate champions Courceys, or can Fr O’Neill’s avoid a third consecutive county final defeat and finally secure their place at the top table of Cork hurling?

Verdict: Fr O’Neill’s 

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