It’s Anyone’s Game On Sunday Says Kerins O’Rahillys Chairman

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Chairman of Kerins O’Rahillys Gaa Club, Haulie Kerins.

IT’S been a long time since Kerins O’Rahillys saw their blue and white ribbons hanging from the handles of the Bishop Moynihan Cup, but the Chairman of the Strand Road club is hopeful and says it’s anyone’s game on Sunday.

Haulie Kerins is wishing they can overcome Austin Stacks to bridge a 19 year gap since their last Kerry SFC final win.

“It has given us a massive boost to reach the county final and maybe unexpectedly so because, while we had a good county league, we picked up some injuries along the way and were beaten well by Dingle in that league final.

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Our club championship performances were mixed as we still had players out, but we still preserved our senior status by beating Legion and then we had a three or four week break,” he said.

That break proved vital said Haulie, as players recovered from injuries and the panel gelled together building a good spirit in the group.

O’Rahillys began their route to the final well with a win against St Kierans and a good performance against Dingle in the quarter-final set them up for a stirring encounter against Dr Crokes.

“We were poor in the first half, but very gritty in the second period and we dug out a result. The important thing was to get over the line into a county final. Now it’s anyone’s game,” he said.

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After the Class of 2002 brought the county title back to Strand Road for the first time since 1957, the only final appearance since then ended in a heartbreaking injury-time defeat to Mid Kerry in 2008, so it’s a long wait.

“We’ve always known over the past five or six years that we were well capable of competing against the best. We have reached semi-finals and had great matches against Crokes and South Kerry, but we were never good enough or got the breaks to get into the final. That’s been different this year.

“The boys have played some great football along the way. We’ll be going up there the next day hoping to deliver a good performance and see where that takes us,” said Haulie.

Naturally, excitement is building at the club and in the greater Strand Road area.

“There’s always been a great atmosphere around Kerins O’Rahillys as a club. The three championship game wins already have given the members and the whole community a massive lift.

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“The fact that it’s Stacks gives it an extra bit of spice and there’s plenty talk about it, so our fellas are keeping focussed and concentrating on what’s ahead of them, because they’ll have nothing easy on Sunday.”

“When I was young, Austin Stacks were not only winning county championships, but also competing for and winning Munster and All-Ireland club honours. In my own playing days they were still that bit better than us, but in more recent years that’s changed.

These two teams have had big battles over the years and even recently, in the club championship game this year, there wasn’t a whole pile in it. It’ll be a very tight game,” he said.

Haulie says there is huge interest in the game outside of the town too because of the rivalry between the two Tralee teams.

“Everybody is going to it. Even in my own workplace [at FBD Insurance] there’s a few lads from west Limerick and south Kerry who have bought tickets. I’d say it’ll have the biggest crowd at a county final in years. The fact that it’s on in Austin Stack Park means the atmosphere will not be lost as the ground is so compact.”

And with Stacks having the most colourful and noisy club supporters in the country, will the Strand Road faithful stand up and be counted?

“We’ve a load of flags and bunting up already and more appearing every day. We want everyone to come out in blue and white, because the Stacks fans definitely won’t be shy on Sunday!”

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