February 13, 2011: a seismic shift occurring in the landscape of Kerry and, indeed, Munster schools football.
The Miltown meeting of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne and St Brendan’s in the Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final was, in the eyes of most, a foregone conclusion — the Dingle school had never reached the decider, while the Killarney nursery eyed a third crown in four years.
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne rocked the applecart in securing an emphatic 2-9 to 0-8 win and while their maiden final appearance ended in heartbreak, it would prove their last defeat in the competition until Pobalscoil Sliabh Luachra marked their card last October — four successive Corn Uí Mhuirí titles and back-to-back Hogan Cup crowns secured in the interim four-and-a-half years.
The two Kerry schools lock horns in today’s Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final; the Sem’s sole objective being to step out from the shadow of the game’s new standard-bearers. St Brendan’s enjoyed the upper hand in their O’Sullivan Cup semi-final last November, but manager Gary McGrath believes the result won’t impact on this latest meeting.
“The O’Sullivan Cup is really a warm-up to the Corn Uí Mhuirí and when we beat them in the semi-final at the beginning of November, it was only three days after Dingle had won the county minor title,” noted McGrath.
“They were after going through the year with no break. They were a tired team and I expect they will be a different animal on Wednesday, given they would have used the winter break to regroup. I imagine it is a result that is well forgotten by both sides at this stage.”
McGrath continued: “This is a big challenge that is in front of us. They are two-time All-Ireland champions. They are a team that the school here has been looking up to the past two years and admiring. We are trying to learn from what they have achieved and see if we can push on.”
Taking advantage of soccer side Killarney Celtic’s all-weather surface enabled McGrath’s students to train outdoors in recent weeks and while he acknowledges they are fortunate to have such a facility on their doorstep, senior club fixtures which spilled over from last year haven’t exactly furthered their preparations.
“Evan Cronin, a member of last year’s Kerry minor panel, hurt his hip when playing with Spa at the weekend, while David Clifford has been struggling with a dead leg.
“It is just unfortunate there are club games in Kerry still going on from last year and how a number of players who played in those senior games that went to extra-time on Sunday are expected to line out again on Wednesday. It is not easy on young lads.
“David and Evan will undergo physio in the morning and we will see how they are fixed after that. They are two big players for us and would be two huge losses were they not to make it.”
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