Friday 17 August 2018

Super 8s D-Day: Eamonn Fitzmaurice mixes it up in defence for Kerry and will have one eye on Salthill

Eamonn Fitzmaurice knows his Kerry team must deliver the goods against Kildare and then hope Galway beat Monaghan. Photo: Sportsfile
Eamonn Fitzmaurice knows his Kerry team must deliver the goods against Kildare and then hope Galway beat Monaghan. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney and Martin Breheny

EAMONN FITZMAURICE has made three alterations to his Kerry side as they battle for championship survival against Kildare in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney this evening (6.0).

The final round of All-Ireland 'Super 8s' clashes doesn't want for drama as the Kingdom must secure victory over the Lilywhites and hope that Galway do them a favour against Monaghan at the same time in Salthill to progress.

A win or a draw will see the Tribesmen top their group and avoid reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-finals, while defeat to the Farney men means Monaghan will top the group and Kerry will exit.

If Kerry prevail and Monaghan lose, both teams will end up on the same points and as they have already drawn, head-to-head is irrelevant and points difference will separate the sides with Monaghan currently +2 and Kerry -3.

The GAA's fixture-makers will be keeping a close watch on the games in Killarney and Pearse Stadium as one particular set of results would force the postponement of the semi-final involving Dublin next Saturday.

If Kerry beat Kildare by 0-15 to 0-12 and Galway beat Monaghan by 0-15 to 1-10, a play-off between Kerry and Monaghan would be necessary as both counties would have identical 'for and against' totals.

Jason Foley and Killian Young, eligible again after serving a one-match suspension, are called into Kerry's defence with Ronan Shanahan and Mark Griffin losing out while Micheál Burns replaces Kevin McCarthy in an attack which has no place for 2014 Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue.

In the other group, the 'sold-out' signs are up at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey (3.30) for tomorrow's Super 8s clash between Donegal and Tyrone as both sides battle for a place in the last four.

A draw will suffice for Mickey Harte's Red Hand side to join Dublin in the last four as runners-up due to their superior score difference – Donegal must win – while the Dubs face a dead rubber with Roscommon in Croke Park, which is preceded by the inaugural All-Ireland U-20 football final between Kildare and Mayo (1.15).

Only a few hundred tickets were available last night for tomorrow's All-Ireland SHC semi-final replay between Clare and Galway in the 46,300-capacity Semple Stadium and the GAA expect them to be sold today.

A crowd of 54,191 attended the drawn game at GAA HQ last Saturday, but it was not possible to stage the replay there today as Galway complete their Super 8s programme against Monaghan in Pearse Stadium this evening.

Limerick manager John Kiely will be keeping a close eye on events in Thurles to see who they will meet in the All-Ireland decider on August 19 with Micheál Donoghue's Galway 4/7 favourites to prevail.

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