Ready to Rock!

The eagerly-anticipated meeting of Austin Stacks and Kerins O’Rahillys in the first senior County Final meeting between the two clubs for 85 years will throw in at 3 o’clock on Sunday at Austin Stack Park, Tralee and there is expected to be a bumper crowd in attendance.

Tralee town is festooned with banners and buntings from the rival camps but the message from Kerry GAA officials is to get your match ticket early. It has been confirmed that a ‘Family Day’ is planned for Sunday with Elvis in the guise of the brilliant Mark Leen providing pre-match entertainment. Leen will of course be expected to sing ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’ to keep both halves of the urban divide happy!

Kerry GAA treasurer Tom Keane outlined at his Treasurer’s Report press conference on Monday night the advice as to what patrons should do if they are planning to attend Sunday’s Garvey’s SuperValu Kerry SFC Final.

“We would ask all patrons to purchase their tickets for the big game early at a cost of €20. If you rock up on the day without a ticket, it will cost €25 and as always for students and OAPs there will be the usual concessions of €5 back on online tickets with the relevant ID and on the day, they will be charged €15 entry. It will be a family day out with under 16s getting in for free. The gates will be open from 1pm and the game is at 3pm but we have pre-match entertainment here at the Stadium at 1.30 so come early and avoid the last minute rush. We have Mark Leen who for the past 25 years has become the most successful Elvis impersonator or ETA (Elvis tribute artist) to emerge from Ireland. Though Mark announced he was to hang up his jumpsuit and retired his stage name as a mark of respect to the King, he will be back in the building as a once off to salute the Kings of Tralee football.”

On Saturday, the Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Final goes ahead at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney at 1.45pm between Beaufort and Na Gaeil. Then on Sunday, the SFC relegation game, which is an all-Killarney affair between Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion, will take place at noon in Fitzgerald Stadium.

Dowling targets the English Derby for Leger winner

Liam Dowling was this week basking in the glory of another Classic win as Ballymac Merlin took the Irish Leger and the €30,000 winners prize. This is the second Leger win for Liam as he won the 2019 version with Ballymac Anton.

“We are elated and absolutely thrilled as it is a great ending to 2021. We won the Leger back in 2019 with Ballymac Anton and it’s nice to win it again.”

Liam says that while it was a mild surprise, he always knew that Ballymac Merlin was a talented greyhound. “Look, open class finals are always competitive and full of the best greyhounds in the country and any dog can win the final. Ballymac Merlin got it right on the night and we had other dogs in finals all during the year that were either not good enough on the night or unlucky on the night. We were lucky on the night and the dog performed and that is what happened.”

Liam’s confidence grew after the trap draw was made for the final. “When the draw was made and Merlin got trap four, people said we had a bad draw. But I thought it was a great draw because Deerjet Sydney in three was always going to be heading to the rail and that would not help the two quick dogs inside him. If Merlin broke, he was going to get an opening in front of him and it happened so we were lucky and he had shown phenomenal back straight pace during the Leger and came home well, so we are delighted.”

So where next for Ballymac Merlin? “He will run in an open 550 this Saturday night and then the Kingdom Derby before we give him a rest and in 2022 he will be aimed at the English Derby at Towcester.”

Supporters invited to opening of Currans this Saturday

The Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence at Currans will be officially opened this coming Saturday at 4.30pm by the President of the GAA, Larry McCarthy.

From embryonic stage to completion, the project spanned four chairmen, starting with Sean Walsh, then Jerome Conway, with Patrick O’Sullivan and Tim Murphy ensuring the project was finished.

Members of the public are invited to attend but must be aware of Covid restrictions and protocols.

Joe Crowley of the organizing committee outlined the timetable of events. “The clubs are invited to attend between 12 and 2 o’clock and if they want to view the indoor facilities, they will have to wear a mask and have a Covid cert to gain entry. They can do as they wish outdoors within the guidelines. At 3pm, Richard McElligott, the noted historian, will give a talk in the commemorative jersey and the Reunification of Kerry society post-Civil War through Kerry GAA. At 4pm, you will have the launch of the Endowment Fund by Denis Brosnan and Liam Lynch who is driving it. At 4.15, you will have an Inter-Faith Blessing by the three recognised faiths in Kerry and then at 4.30 the official opening of the Centre of Excellence by Larry McCarthy, Tim Murphy and a representative of Kerry Group will take place. I would urge people to show up as they will be delighted and hopefully proud of this fabulous facility.”

To complete a hectic weekend for Kerry GAA, County Convention will be held in person on Monday night at the MTU Sports Hall, North Campus, Tralee at 7.30pm. To gain entry, Covid certs and masks are a must but there is also an online version as well for those who cannot attend.