Buoyed up Lillywhites to provide stern test
All Ireland JFC Semi-Final: Kerry v Kildare, Saturday, July 7, Páirc Tailteann, Navan 4.45pm
It's a real shame that after such a thrilling performance to the Munster final that the main topic of conversation about the Kerry Juniors' next competitive outing concerns where it is being played as much as them winning a fifth provincial crown in-a-row.
The decision to fix the game for Navan, when Kerry have to travel through Saturday's opponents own homestead to get there, has raised many eyebrows, but for Jimmy Keane the focus now has to switch to the game itself with Kildare.
"It is what it is in terms of the venue, but regardless of where it is being played we have a number of other problems mainly that Daniel Daly is out for the campaign after picking up an injury with St Marys at the weekend, while Andrew Barry and Patrick Clifford are not available for this game.
"We could have an entire new half-back line as well as Seán Moloney is struggling with an ankle injury so that's as big an issue as the venue for us," Keane said.
Those losses are tempered by the possible return of former senior panellist Denis Daly of St Marys with both Adam Barry and Gavin Horan likely to be called up from the extended panel from the Cork match. Glenbeigh / Glencar's Jack Brosnan is back in contention following a recent recovery from injury, while Kilcummin's Gary O'Leary is also another likely to come into consideration as he did not play Senior County Championship with the East Kerry side last year, but did feature prominently in their recent Intermediate Club Championship success much like team captain Kieran Murphy.
Knowledge of the Lilywhites is limited by Keane, but he feels three competitive games for them in Leinster gives them as big an advantage over the Kingdom as much as the geography associated with the venue.
"From what we can gather they appear to have a lot of pace and are physically strong but the important thing for us now is keep the players focussed and get too caught up in the whole debate about where the match is being played."
The Kingdom's run of success at Junior level very much appears to be on the line here with their personnel issues as much as having to make the trek up to Páirc Tailteann.
With Daly out a big onus falls on Evan Cronin and Thomas Hickey in the forward line as Kieran and Ronan Murphy will have to be strong at midfield again. The enforced defensive changes might create huge problems for Jimmy Keane however especially in having to change a winning unit so soon after a major success.
The amount of Kildare support will be an issue also as the numbers supporting the Kingdom are likely to be low. Leinster opposition provided Kerry their most difficult challenge at the semi-final stage back in 2015 when they got the better of Wexford in Dungarvan although it does serve as proof that Kerry can beat opposition in a county neighbouring their opponents.