Replay should be another cracking contest

South Kerry Final Replay: St Marys v Dromid Pearses, Saturday January 11, Portmagee 2pm

Denis Daly of St. Mary’s with the ball closely being tackled by Graham Ó Súilleabhain of Piarsaigh Na Dromoda during the South Kerry Senior Championship final in Portmagee. Photo by Stephen Kelleghan
Denis Daly of St. Mary’s with the ball closely being tackled by Graham Ó Súilleabhain of Piarsaigh Na Dromoda during the South Kerry Senior Championship final in Portmagee. Photo by Stephen Kelleghan

Jimmy D'Arcy

Certain types of football are traditionally associated with different parts of Kerry.

Paddy Bawn Brosnan from the West famously spoke of the farmers and fishermen who would bring along a college boy to kick the frees. In the North you had the steel of Con Brosnan passed to Eddie Walsh and on again to Deenihan and the Bomber and Kennelly and on again.

In Tralee and Killarney you had the clever forwards, Charlie O'Sullivan and the Landers and Sheehys were putting them over before Mike Sheehy ever picked up a ball. Murt Kelly and Tom Prendergast played football before the Lynchs ever picked up a ball. As for South Kerry?

South Kerry is, was, and always has been purists' football. Catch and kick. Go back to Jack Murphy himself, who gave one of the greatest exhibitions of football of all time in an All Ireland semi-final but passed away with pneumonia before the final. Some footballer.

Mick O'Dwyer was the best of them all before any of the great Egan brothers or Jack O'Shea or Ger O'Driscoll wore the geansaí he gave them.

Ned Fitzgerald was a Kerry player before any of his sons saw the light of day, and it wasn't Maurice who brought the first South Kerry medal to his father's house.

There were plenty more (Maria Teahan, Sarah O'Connor, Kacey O'Driscoll, and Caroline Kelly have All Stars too) and should have been more - it's no secret that South Kerry was overlooked in the old days.

There's three Kerry footballers on the pitch next Saturday (two current and one former; I won't name him but it wouldn't be a hard guess!) and another on the sideline.

But there's Kerry football, and there's South Kerry Championship. All Ireland medals don't count as any currency on these days and never did. It'll be rippling, and rattling, and let's not kid ourselves, there will be roaring. Sure, I'm pure neutral and my give a yelp or two myself.

The South Kerry Final. It's a pity that it clashes with the Templenoe and Na Gaeil games - there will be plenty in Portmagee who would love to cheer those teams on. But it couldn't be helped. The South Kerry Final has a magic all of its own.

St Marys boss Kieran McCarthy is happy enough with preparations.

"We have everybody more or less fit and ready, so that's a good thing. It's been a tough couple of weeks, no question. We trained away hard, it did put a bit of a damper on Christmas of course, but look, it was just as tough on the Dromid lads as well.

"They are a great team and it'll be a tough game to win, we all knew that. We saw what they can do the last day and it didn't come as any surprise. The two teams knew each other growing up, they go back years.

"It'll be hard to win, but all we're hoping for a good referee and a good game. We have always had a great relationship with Dromid. Look, it'll be suspended for a few days, but whether we win or we lose, we'll all be great friends again before too long.

"There's a bit of history in it. For myself, and my selectors Jerdie, John Shea and John Sheahan along with me as well, it would be great to win six in-a-row, but look, we'll talk about it after the game or not at all. At the moment we are all just focusing on the game."

St Marys were most certainly under the cosh in that game. In fact, they were basically wiped out in the first twenty minutes but fought back well to get a draw. They actually looked the more likely team to win it in the end. But this is a blank slate.

Piarsaigh na Dromoda, who declined to speak to The Kerryman despite several attempts to contact a club spokesperson, looked like champions elect for forty minutes in Portmagee the last day out, but they are as far away from being champions as they were when the first ball was thrown in that day.

Criostóir Ó Fearchailliagh was able to come on and actually showed up well, but didn't finish the game. If, and it remains only an 'if', he is able to start it is a very key addition to their forward line.

One weakness the last day was a reliance on Niall Ó Sé for scores. Mind you, when it comes to Niall Ó Sé and that particular art of Gaelic football, 'weakness' is not a word that comes to mind. He was outstanding, but Ó Fearchaillaigh fit and able, along with his brother Keelan, adds considerable weight to a very finely balance scale.

Spare a thought for Graham O'Sullivan. Just off the plane with the Kerry team straight into the pulsating atmosphere of a South Kerry Final replay, and heading off after as UCC begin their Sigerson campaign.

There's an old saying about man proposing and God disposing. I get the impression that the GAA Fixtures Committee haven't heard of it by the looks of the scheduling, with the McGrath Cup and Under 20 League on at the moment as well. Not that Piarsaigh na Dromoda should or will care. Their whole focus, just as it has been since the very start of a tough campaign this year, will be all on Portmagee next Saturday at 2pm.

I'll make no predictions but one. It's not a secret that both sides aren't happy with each other at the moment, but that won't affect the football. It'll be tough, of course, there was never a South Kerry Final won easily, but both sides know how to play good football and that's what will decide it.

As for who will win? It's a roulette wheel and we'll all know when it stops spinning.