Saturday 18 November 2017

Rochford wields axe as Kerry mix youth and experience

Kerry player James O'Donoghue Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kerry player James O'Donoghue Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice has named 11 of the side which fell to All-Ireland champions Dublin in last year's semi-final for their opening Allianz NFL Division 1 clash with Donegal in Letterkenny tomorrow.

Former Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue and 2016 All-Star attacker Paul Geaney form a potent full-forward line alongside Jack Savage, who is one of three debuts alongside All-Ireland minor winners Jason Foley and Tom O'Sullivan.

Foley comes in at corner-back while O'Sullivan is named at wing-back as Fitzmaurice looks to inject youth in defence after the retirements of Kingdom duo Aidan O'Mahony and Marc Ó Sé.

Their opponents have four newcomers, including former Leitrim player Paul Brennan who makes his Donegal debut, while Rory Gallagher has also drafted in Jamie Brennan, Jason McGee and Michael Langan.

Elsewhere, there are just seven survivors from Mayo's All-Ireland final replay loss for tonight's clash with Monaghan in Castlebar with Stephen Rochford experimenting as U-21 All-Ireland winner Fergal Boland comes in at wing-forward.

Absentees

There's no place for Rob Hennelly with All-Star goalkeeper David Clarke preferred, while the O'Shea brothers, Aidan, Seamus and Conor, are all absentees as Danny Kirby and Donal Vaughan start in the engine room.

Meanwhile, Mattie McGleenan has three league newcomers in his Cavan side as they look to ambush the Dubs with Gerard Smith, Fergal Reilly and Niall Clerkin all coming in as the Breffni men make their long-awaited Division 1 return.

Dublin's All-Star full-back Jonny Cooper will sit out tomorrow's trip to Breffni Park because of a cumulative ban arising from two black cards against Mayo last year (in the All-Ireland final replay and an earlier league clash) and a double-yellow dismissal against Cork (in March).

In Division 2, Peadar Healy has named former All-Star Aidan Walsh in a strong side as Cork make the trip to Pearse Stadium to face title rivals Galway.

The 27-year-old former dual star, who concentrated on hurling in recent seasons, makes his competitive return while in-form forward Niall Coakley, who plays his club football with St Jude's in Dublin, makes his league debut at corner-forward.

Irish Independent

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