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Kerry V Clare in Munster Semi Final 2016-06-08 07:40:00

Kerry play Clare in Munster GAA Football Championship semi final
Kerry senior Footballers open their Munster and All Ireland senior football campaign on Sunday next with a Munster semi final meeting with Clare in Fitzgerald Stadium (3:30pm). It is hard to believe that nine months have gone by since that painful All Ireland defeat to Dublin and indeed, more psychological damage was inflicted on the Kerry players by the Dubs at the end of April when the Metropolitans repeated the dose in the Allianz League final. It will be interesting to see how Kerry recover form those two body blows.

Not a whole lot has changed since that September defeat in Croke Park. Physical trainer and selector, Cian O’Neill, has moved on to pastures new in Kildare and has been replaced by Padraig Corcoran while Liam Hassett has been added to the management team as a selector. There has been no mass exodus of experienced players leaving the panel but the management team have called in fresh legs in the form of players like Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Denis Daly (St Marys), Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), Barry O’Sullivan (Dingle) and Killian Spillane (Templenoe) as well as Marcus Mangan (Milltown-Castlemaine) to the squad. It will be interesting to see how many of these players will break through to the starting fifteen and that issue in itself will occupy the minds of many Kerry supporters over the Summer period.

Team news is that Anthony Maher is back in contention for a place on the starting fifteen after an injury that took longer than expected to heal but Johnny Buckley misses Sunday’s game while Brendan O’Sullivan and Denis Daly are also on the injured list. James O’Donoghue has not resumed full contact activity as yet.

So what of opponents Clare? They were by no means over impressive when defeating Limerick in the semi final a fortnight ago but they do have the benefit of that preliminary round game. Two years ago in Ennis, the Bannermen certainly put it up to Kerry for a long time before the Kingdom finally emerged with a rather flattering four points winning margin. Clare will also be buoyed by that thrilling victory over Kildare in the Allianz League Division 3 final and with nothing to lose and a Munster final place at stake, Clare are sure to make a game of it.
The Kerry team and management returned on Friday last from 5 days in a training camp in the south east of England, and this exercise will no doubt stand to them in the weeks and months ahead.

The team to play Clare will be announced on Friday evening at 9pm after training. Referee for Sunday’s game is Fergal Kelly of Longford.