THE two victors on the opening night of County Championship action in JP O'Sullivan Park back in June do battle at this same venue this Saturday evening. Of the two sides that night, Milltown/Castlemaine had arguably the harder task in seeing off East Kerry with Mike Frank Russell essentially the difference between Laune Rangers and their counterparts on the river Shannon.
Milltown/ Castlemaine have kept the momentum from their great triumph in Croke Park back in February going, still in with a chance of a County League Final spot while Marcus Mangan accepted the AllIreland Junior Football title for Kerry last Saturday in Ennis. Laune Rangers appear to be picking up their form, coming back from failing to score in the first-half against Spa in the County League to earn a valuable draw while they recently defeated Killarney Legion to put them on the verge of securing their Division One status.
Both sides have injury concerns coming into this, Rangers rate both Liam Hassett and Peter Crowley as doubtful due to hamstring injuries, while Pa Sheehan is another concern according to the Killorglin club. For Milltown's part both Ian Twiss and Gavin Wrenn are rated as concerns and Club Secretary and senior selector Timmy Teehan still feels Rangers are a massive threat despite some poor performances in recent years.
"They are always a challenge for us no matter how they are doing elsewhere. They will always perform well in the Championship and while we've done well against them in the recent past, the memory of plenty of defeats to them beyond that is always there to keep us on our toes," he told The Kerryman. Laune Rangers manager Joe Shannon agrees that the club's record against Milltown has been poor in recent years but feels this is a challenge his team will rise to.
"We've only a Mid Kerry League Final win against them in recent years and they have been at a higher level than us but the lads have achieved what we've asked of them this year, not only in retaining our status in this competition but the County League also which we are on the brink of at the moment and this game is certainly another challenge that we are putting in front of the players," Shannon said.
A Mid Kerry derby that should provided plenty of thrills and spills, Milltown might just have the edge overall in the end. Verdict: Milltown/ Castlemaine