O Se brothers boost in Kingdom show of strength
DESPITE all the talk about being ravaged by injuries Kerry named a remarkably strong team last night for their Munster championship opener with Tipperary on Sunday.
There was strong speculation that Jack O'Connor's squad might have to start without any O Se brother for the first time in 15 years because Darragh had retired and both Tomas and Marc were injury doubts.
Yet both Tomas and Marc have been named in a defence that also includes recently returned Mike McCarthy at centre-back and is the exact same six that lined out in last year's All-Ireland final. Marc O Se was believed to have recovered in time from a knock in a club game last weekend, but it was believed that Tomas, with a knee injury, would not be ready.
Goalkeeper Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin) is the Kingdom's only championship newcomer in a team that includes 11 of last year's starting All-Ireland finalists, including Colm Cooper, who has recovered from an eye injury.
Michael Quirke takes the place of retired midfielder Darragh O Se, while up front Donncha Walsh and captain Bryan Sheehan fill in for Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh.
Derry have named two championship debutants -- wing-back Michael Bateson and wing-forward Declan Mullan -- for their home Ulster opener against Armagh and, in Kevin McCloy's injury absence, Kevin McGuckian will play at full-back.
Mick O'Dwyer has picked Dara O hAnnaidh at full-back for Wicklow's big derby clash with Carlow. The Bray player is expected to arrive home from his Swedish workplace today.
JP Dalton will partner James Stafford in midfield, injury worries Paul Earls and Dean Odlum have both been named in the full-forward line, while Rathnew's Mickey Mernagh, at left half-forward, is the Garden County's only championship debutant.
Meanwhile, Longford boss Glenn Ryan has been hit by a double injury blow ahead of their Leinster SFC clash with Louth on Sunday week. Sharp-shooter Brian Kavanagh is definitely out, while Paul Barden faces a race to be fit. Both players had been sidelined by injury earlier this season, but had recently returned to action.
A County Board official confirmed yesterday that Kavanagh has a broken bone in his foot, which is expected to keep him out for up to six weeks.
Armagh feature just one personnel change but several positional switches from the side which beat Down in the Division 2 league final and Ronan Clarke, as expected, has not made it back in time. Kieran Toner now starts at full-back with Brendan Donaghy switching to the corner to replace Barry Shannon and Malachy Mackin, who starred off the bench in the league final, is rewarded with a start at wing-forward which sees Charlie Vernon move to take Toner's spot in midfield.
KERRY (SF v Tipperary) -- B Kealy; M O Se, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan; T O Se, M McCarthy, K Young; S Scanlon, M Quirke; P Galvin, Declan O'Sullivan, D Walsh; C Cooper, K Donaghy, B Sheehan.
TIPPERARY (SF v Kerry) - P Fitzgerald; P Codd, N Curran, C McDonald; C Alyward, R Costigan, C McGrath; K Mulryan, G Hannigan; P Acheson, P Austin, H Coghlan; S Carey, B Grogan, B Mulvihill.
WICKLOW (SF v Carlow) -- M Travers; S Kelly, D O hAnnaidh, A Byrne; P McWalter, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, JP Dalton; L Glynn, T Hannon, M Mernagh; D Odlum, S Furlong, P Earls.
DERRY (SF v Armagh) -- B Gillis; B Og McAlary, K McGuckian, D McBride; G O'Kane, B McGuigan, M Bateson; F Doherty, P Bradley; S L McGoldrick, M Lynch, D Mullan; P Bradley, E Bradley, R Wilkinson.
ARMAGH -- P Hearty; A Mallon, K Toner, B Shannon; P Duffy, C McKeever, F Moriarty; C Vernon, J Lavery; M Mackin, A Kernan, G Swift; B Mallon, S McDonnell, R Henderson.