A ST BRENDANS derby that brings together two sides who have been on an upward curve over the last couple of years, Na Gaeil, Novice champions of two years ago and in the hunt for promotion in the County League, St Pats as high as Division Two of the competition and a team who have knocked on the door of making the final in four of the last six years.
James Costello, St Pats selector says the team will have to channel previous disappointments against Keel, Castlegregory and Dromid Pearses to make it through.
"Certainly overcoming that hurt will be a challenge coming towards the last five minutes of the game to prevent the lads getting a sense of déjà vu. We were happy with the Duagh game, because it gave us a competitiveness we unfortunately don't have in our own Divisional Championship like others do around the county," he told The Kerryman.
However, the fact this is a derby is keeping Costello on his feet about Na Gaeil but their manager Mark Bourke sees his side having a major task in making the final. "I suppose really we're in bonus territory really at this stage. We definitely got the luck you need in Championship games against both Ballyduff and Tuosist but you have to acknowledge that St Pats are more experienced at this level having knocked on the door over the last few years. We haven't done too well against teams in the St Brendans League and it is really against the teams outside of there that we seem to perform," the Na Gaeil manager said. The Killeen side have a number of concerns over Eoin O'neill, Mike Griffin and Dan O'connor going into the semi-final, while their opponents are reporting a clean bill of health.
On experience, one has to go with St Pats; they have been at this stage long enough that now is the time for them to make the final. However the fact they have not got over the line will give Na Gaeil the sense that they could pull off their third dramatic victory in the space of the month.
While St Pats will expect David O'callaghan and Kieran Hurley to provide them with their scoring strength, Eamon O'neill and Kerry Minors Jack Barry and Darragh Carmody are three players who will have to be closely marshalled by St Pats and if it is a close run thing coming into the closing stages, Na Gaeil have the experience of their victories over Ballyduff and Tuosist to draw from in pulling off a surprise victory. Provided St Pats learn from their recent past however, that's unlikely to happen.
Verdict: St Pats