AH what could have been.
We could have been travelling up to Quilty or Ennis or some other such place and the entire county would be talking about Micko and his latest clash with the Kingdom as manager of a rival county. A few moments of madness by his new charges ensured it didn't happen. They led comfortably – by five points – heading into the final moments of the game. They coughed up 1-2, however, and Limerick sealed for themselves a visit to Killarney this Sunday afternoon in extra-time.
Despite struggling to what, in the end, turned out to be a somewhat fortuitous victory over Micko's Banner, Limerick should still be a cut above what Kerry have faced up to now. IT Tralee, with all due respect, simply weren't at the races and UCC for all their guts and grit – and Conor Cox – weren't quite up to scratch either. Whatever flaws they might have, Maurice Horan's men are an intercounty outfit coming off the back of a victory over intercounty opposition.
They did cough up 2-13, a not inconsequential tally, to Clare last weekend and their manager lamented both of the Banner goals as "soft". The last thing they can afford to do in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday is give away soft goals. This may be a Kerry team shorn of Colm Cooper and Declan O'Sullivan, but they retain the ability to punish sides. Last weekend Paddy Curtin scored 22 from play. His inside line colleague Paul Geaney scored 0-2 from play.
Those tallies came against students though and it won't be until they start to do similar things against inter-county opposition that we'll start to take their claims to inclusion for championship seriously. That's not meant to be disrespectul. It's simply being realistic. There's a whole world of difference between playing UCC and playing Tipperary or Clare or Limerick, let alone Cork or Dublin or Donegal.
Kerry's young guns, for the most part, have done what's been asked of them. They've won their games, they've won them well. Okay they were rightly described by Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice as "flat" at the weekend, but you have to factor in fact the game as a live contest was over after Curtin's second goal. The remaining 45 minutes were about holding steady as much as anything. Kerry had more to lose. UCC had nothing to lose and it showed.
Full-back remains a position of prime interest to both management and fans. At the moment the position remains very much up for grabs. Mike Moloney will be itching to get back out there as soon as possible and while he won't be available to train with the Kingdom this week there remains the possibility that he could feature at the weekend as Fitzmaurice confirmed that some Crokes players will be available to him for this
That accomodation might point more towards Johnny Buckley's inclusion from the start than Moloney's, however. With Kieran Donaghy getting married Kerry will be down at least one midfielder this weekend. For continuity's sake Fitzmaurice would surely like to keep the improving Buckley in the fold allowing him to gain some confidence and momentum. At the time of going to press it seemed all but certain that Anthony Maher would return to the starting fifteen following Duagh's recent victory in the North Kerry championship alongside the Crokes' man.
Shane Enright is another North Kerry man likely to get his first start this weekend. He won't have an easy afternoon of it, as Limerick do have some quality attackers at this disposal – most notably Ian Ryan ( below). Seamus O'Carroll is another player to watch out for. He bagged the all important equaliser. Ger Collins and Eoghan O'Connor should also feature for the Shannonsiders. They will be without some of their best players, however, John Galvin remains on the injury list as do Jim O'Donovan, Stephen Lucey and Seanie Buckley.
Kerry won't be substantially stronger than they were last weekend – Maher as first choice midfielder should, you'd imagine, be a step up from Donaghy, then again Donaghy did absolutely nothing wrong at the weekend – so any improvements that do come will have to be from hard work and the chemistry that develops between footballers playing week in and week out. Do Kerry need to improve to see off Limerick?
It's hard to say. When they had to up it last weekend they were able to. Against Limerick should they be required to do likewise they have what it takes you'd imagine. Until they have to and until they do you just never know, though, do you?