Step into the unknown for Under 17s after lay-off

All Ireland Under 17 FC semi-final: Kerry v Roscommon, Saturday, August 12, Cusack Park, Ennis 2pm

Jason O'Connor

Over three months after their won the Munster title, the Kerry Under 17s head to Ennis for their All-Ireland semi-final in somewhat of a 'glass half full, glass half empty' scenario.

The glass is half full for the minor contingent in the squad with a decent amount of match practice since the Munster final.

However, the glass is half empty for those for whom this is the first time they will have donned the inter-county colours since that fiery victory against Cork in Austin Stack Park.

The residue from that unfortunately is Michael Slattery missing the Roscommon game due to a one match suspension arising out of the incidents that marred an otherwise competitive game of football.

There has been time to alleviate and plan around that setback, however, as with Munster being the first province to finish in this once-off grade then Kerry could assess what was happening elsewhere.

Roscommon were surprise winners over Galway in the Connacht final last month and will head down to Ennis hoping that the element of surprise might work in their favour again.

Deividas Uosis, Eddie Horan and Donal O'Sullivan are the most prominent in terms of the minor contingent in the Under 17 side, O'Sullivan returning after missing out on the Munster Under 17 decider due to a wrist injury sustained in the Munster minor semi-final win over Cork.

Dylan Casey and Slattery are others to have featured with the Minors through the campaign thus far but Laune Rangers' Daire Cleary could be one of those in the reckoning for a starting berth with Slattery's enforced absence.

Franz Sauerland and team captain Sean O'Connell have formed a good combination at midfield in the two games thus far with Sauerland along with Gearóid Lyne and Uosis players that featured in Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne's enthralling All-Ireland Under 16½ Schools triumph back in March.

Listry's Barry Keane was a Hogan Cup winner with St Brendans College with Michael Kelliher of John Mitchels another to impress at Post-Primary level this year for Tralee CBS in the Corn Uí Mhuirí. Fergal Barry of Na Gaeil is a younger brother of Jack and Andrew while Maurice Fitzgerald's son Muiris has also featured off the bench for the side.

Despite a strong start against Tipperary in their first match, Kerry did have some nervous moments before getting the better of the Premier County in the end. The real conviction was shown in the Munster Final win over Cork however as despite Cork dominating the game for a large period, Kerry managed to pull through and showed great courage and conviction in winning out by five points.

A long time has passed since those two games in the space of two weeks back in May in Tralee, but with both the Under 17s and Minors working together under the one training regime they are being prepared well despite the gap between the games.

A large element of the unknown surrounds the game on Saturday. Just how will this Kerry side perform after sitting on the sidelines for three months?

Are Roscommon the better for having played over the summer since Kerry qualified for the semi-final?

With players at this age a lot can come down to what happens on the day, but provided Kerry can get a repeat of the spirit shown in the win over Cork back in May, they stand a great chance of ensuring that the county will be involved in another underage All-Ireland Final.

Donal O'Sullivan's return could be key especially with how the Kilgarvan player has developed over the course of the year, his Munster Minor Final performance in particular drawing praise.

This will be the sixth time a Kerry Football side will have played in Ennis this year between inter-county, club and schools matches and the fifth to be an All-Ireland semi-final at that.

It's 2-2 in terms of the outcomes thus far with St Brendans College and Glenbeigh / Glencar winning their semi-finals, but the Kerry Under 21s and Kenmare Shamrocks losing out in Cusack Park.

Verdict: Kerry