FINUGE are in a county final. Lixnaw are in a county final. And Feale Rangers boss Brian Scanlon has been handed a particularly sticky wicket ahead of this weekend's county championship quarter-final against Dingle.
Not only has he had to deal with an almost six month gap between games, but the focus of his panel has been divided. It can't be helped. Finuge have returned to the intermediate decider for the second time in three years, while Lixnaw's ever improving form in the small ball competition has made prepartions very difficult indeed for the manager.
The good news is that he will have his Lixnaw players available to him for the game. With a county hurling final just eight days away the Lixnaw players – the Corridans in particular – are showing serious dedication to the cause, even if they haven't always been as available to Scanlon as he would, in an ideal world, like.
"They will be available to us, but it has been a struggle. Particularly for the players themselves as you can imagine to try and serve two masters. It has been tough on them and also for ourselves in terms of preparation it hasn't been ideal in terms of playing matches and trying to get the best preparations that we could it has't been the best," Scanlon said.
The long gap between this weekend's game and their last – against West Kerry in Dingle in the first round – has been equally challening for the Rangers.
"Being honest a game at the previous stage, the last sixteen, would have been a huge benefit," the Listowel Emmets club man said. "We're going into this game having only played one championship game in the last I suppose fifteen months or so, since Mid Kerry last year when we were beaten. We've only played one game since then at a competitive level. The way we would look at it is that while it's great getting to a quarter-final, getting a bye sometimes can work against you because of preparation."
Still this is a quality Feale Rangers outfit with players of the calibre of Pat Corridan, Kieran Quirke (an injury doubt with a calf strain), Paul Galvin and Conor Cox at their disposal. On paper they would seem to be a match for this Dingle side. To be honest on paper they look good enough to give this championship a very decent rattle. Whether they can put it together over the next month, with all the distractions, with hurling finals and intermediate football finals, remains to be seen.
Dingle boss Murt Moriarty has no such worries. The focus of his panel has been 100% on this competition. Sure they could yet win the County League, but that takes a backseat to the race for the Bishop Moynihan Cup. They maybe flattered to deceive a bit in their round of sixteen game against Kilcummin. A source of concern out west.
"You wouldn't be very happy with that performance if we were honest. To get five goals against the Kerry senior goalkeeper that doesn't happen very often. That was a positive, but to only score ten
scores to Kilcummin's eleven over the space of sixty minutes we couldn't have been pleased with that. It was good to come out the right end of the result it was a bonus, but if we were to play to that standard in the quarter-finals we would be struggling. What we're working on here is trying to get as good a performance as possible out of the team."
Even if Dingle have been rocked by the loss of Micheál Slattery for the rest of the season with a knee injury, with the Geaneys, with Colm Benny Moriarty, with Darragh O'Sullivan, with Jason Murphy (doubtful with a rib injury) in their ranks they've got the quality to make a serious impression on this championship and with the games they've played they'll likely be the slicker combination in Stack Park on Saturday evening.
Moriarty don't believe that Rangers' lack of games will cost them too dearly, citing their own example of a couple of years ago, and instead focusses on the quality of player at the Rangers' disposal.
"If you run through that team you can see straight away that there's quality in every sector of the field. They've county players all over the place. In fairness players that are playing top quality football for their county through the year, lacking games for Feale Rangers won't count against them.
"They have [Anthony] Maher in midfield with [Damien] Somers. I was involved with the development squads through the years and Damien Somers I watched him for a year or two. He's a fantastic footballer. I'm really looking forward to that – the two midfielders they have and the two midfielders we have, Colm Benny and Darragh O'Sullivan. Colm Benny a minor and Under 21 in the past against the two lads.
"I'd be looking foward to that as a spectator let alone as a manager. A lot will depend on that area and who comes out on top in that middle third will dictate a lot of what the result will be."
Brian Scanlon describes Dingle as "one of the best club sides in Kerry". It's hard to dispute that assessment.
The question is whether for all their talent Feale Rangers can get a performance out of side lacking in competitive football? And whether DIngle can match them if they do?