PREVIEW: Can Kerins O’Rahillys Overcome Their Championship Bogey Team?

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Gavin O’Connor looks at the do or die clash between Kerins O’Rahillys and Killarney Legion in Round 3 of the Garveys Supervalu Kerry SFC  in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday (3.30pm)… 

Kerins O'Rahillys players swarm on Legion player. Photo by Dermot Crean

Kerins O’Rahillys players swarm on a Legion player in their league encounter earlier this year. Photo by Dermot Crean

WHEN the draw was made for Round 3, Kerins O’Rahilly’s were pitted against the last team they might have wanted to see come out of the hat.

Legion have beaten the blues in four out of four club and county championship matches they have played in the last two years.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Killarney side have knocked O’Rahilly’s out of the club championship. While a hat-trick of goals by James O’Donoghue in last year’s county championship ended Strand Road’s title dreams.

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To put it mildly, there seems to be mental block when The Blues go up against Legion who this Sunday are going for five championships wins in a row over Strand Road.

The Tralee side will go into this game without defenders, Cormac Coffey, Cian Sayers and Tommy Begley who are in America but will be back for the next round in September/October should the side get over Legion.

Kerins O’Rahilly’s joint manager Morgan Nix is happy to report that keymen, David Moran, Barry John Keane and Tommy Walsh are all fit and ready for action.

While there is no issues getting players revved up for the encounter, a seven week lay-off since the six point win over Feale Rangers in Round 2 might not be ideal.

“It’s not too bad, because there has been a lot of county league games,” said Morgan Nix. “The biggest problem with this round is having those lads in America and that’s for all clubs [missing players] I suppose,” he added.

In Round 1, Legion destroyed Milltown/Castlemaine by 19 points. That win was followed by a five point humbling at the hands of Kenmare District, which surprised many around the county.

One vital component however, is the return of James O’Donoghue to the fold. The 2014 Player of the Year looked like he was back in business in the Munster final at the weekend, kicking 0-4 with just over ten minutes spent on the pitch.

Back in April, the two met in the club championship. The match was a low-scoring, poor encounter with Legion adopting a defensive mindset from the start and O’Rahilly’s failing to capitalise on their lion’s share of possession.

Hopefully we’ll something different on Sunday. If O’Rahilly’s can copperfasten their leaky defence, that will go a long way in moving onto the quarter-finals, but that’s a big ‘if’ with a James O’Donoghue back and ready to get his season firing.

Verdict – Legion by 2

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