ST KIERAN'S are hot favourites to get the better of a somewhat depleted Austin Stacks side to progress into their second county final in three years at this grade. The Rockies will line out without their Kerry U21 players, Fergal McNamara and Shane O'Callaghan, along with the notable absence of star forward Darragh O'Brein, who are all in America for the summer. While they will also have to line out without their Kerry minor players, Greg Horan and Conor Jordan, who will be playing in Croke Park on Sunday.
On the otherhand, St Kieran's will have a full panel to select from, with the exception of corner-back Brendan O'Donnell, while they will have Kerry U21 midfielder James Walsh available to play his part in the semi-final clash. The district board outfit possess plenty of experience, with eight of the panel involved in their final defeat at this grade two years ago, while six of the panel also won a minor county championship in 2009.
They easily overcame Laune Rangers in the opening round, before seeing off West Kerry in the quarter-final stage. The 2011 finalists, who have a dozen players inlvoed with their senior side, have quality all over the field, with Eamonn Kiely in defence, Walsh and Denis O'Connor in the middle of the field, while the lethal Kerry Junior duo of Thomas Hickey (below) and Philip O'Connor have been causing considerable damage in the competition so far. They are by no means lone soldiers in attack, with Mike Finnegan and Adam Barry two other talented stars that will require a constant eye on.
However this Stacks team will not lie down in the absence of their more experienced performers. The young side will be looking to give a good account of themselves and they have grown in confidence with convincing wins over An Ghaeltacht and Shannon Rangers in their path to the semi-final clash. The Rockies lost out in the Club Championship final last year to Legion and will be anxious to get their hands on some silverware at this level to make amends for last years final loss.
Ciaran O'Connell's engine at midfield will be vital for the Rockies cause, while the skill and leadership of Brendan O'Neill will be required if the Rockies are to defy the odds and progress to the final. Stacks will look to the cool head of Alan Crean to organise the defence, while Danny Carrol and Eamonn McAllen will be their go-to men in attack.
It is hard to look past St Kieran's who are expected to advance to the final with Stacks having to line-out without so many key players. At this stage though, anything can happen.