KERRY kick off their Oscar Traynor Cup campaign next Friday evening at Mounthawk Park when they play the Munster Senior League in the opening round of the competition.
They are in a very tough group with Cork AUL, and The Defence Forces also in their four team group. It is crucial that they get a win in this game as both of their other fixtures are away. The format for qualification for the knock-out stages has been changed this year, as it is a four group section instead of three. Last year only the top team could qualify in a round robin basis, but this year two teams will progress.
Timmy Lynch takes over the reins as team manager again and has a good strong panel of players at his disposal. He will want to banish the memory of last year's event when Kerry had such a great run only to lose to the Dublin League in the final. Of course, he will have learned a lot from last year's competition and know that he has a panel of players that are capable of winning the national competition if they can perform to their full potential.
However, he will know that you have to have a lot of things going for you to reach a national final in successive years and to repeat getting to the national decider is an enormous challenge. The first thing they must do is to get out of their group and this poses a challenge of gigantic proportions. Speaking to The Kerryman he said he was looking forward to the first game.
"We have had a few good training sessions and the lads are up to the challenge ahead. The fact that we reached the final last year is of no relevance this year as we have to get out of our group first and then go through the knock out stages of the competition. On paper we have a good panel of players but we have to get them playing at their best if we are to have a chance of winning.
"The Munster Senior League are a very strong side as they have very high profile clubs to choose from. Most of the Kerry panel were on last year's team that reached the final and with Tralee Dynamos players available this year makes the panel much stronger. There is plenty of competition for places on the team and it is good to know that the bench will be very strong this year. The players are ready for the challenge it is now down to producing the goods on the field of play."
Let's hope soccer fans around the county win come out in large numbers on Friday evening to support
the team. The Kerry panel is: Goalkeepers: David Hennessy ( pictured), Stephen Bartlett, Darragh O'Brien and Gary Kissane Defenders: Jonathan Burrows, Maurice O'Rahilly, Scott Monaghan, Donnacha O'Higgins, Brian Spillane, David Hayes, Kevin McCarthy, Sean Foley Midfielders: Gary Keane, James Sugrue, Stephen Hayes, Anthony McAuliffe, Fergal Maunsell and Peter McCarthy. Forwards: Adam Pigott, Paudie Quinn, Bryan Murphy and Con Barrett.