PREVIEW: Exciting Weekend Of Kerry Hurling Championship Action In Tralee

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Mike O’Halloran previews the four Garvey’s SuperValu Hurling Championship games taking place this weekend in Austin Stack Park…

Kilmoyley v Lixnaw — Saturday, 5.30pm

Lixnaw and Kilmoyley in action in 2016.

Kilmoyley are managed by one of the greatest forwards ever to play the game of hurling Shane Brick.

Fergus Fitzmaurice and Mark foley are attempting to guide Lixnaw to the trophy after falling at the final hurdle last year.

Lixnaw and Kilmoyley have a host of county men at their disposal, the Lixnaw line up will include Martin Stackpoole between the posts his fellow county men Johnny Buckley and Shane Conway.

Darragh Shanahan will lead the team on the pitch, John Griffin who missed last years final with a hand injury will surely be influential in this battle as will Jeremy McKenna.

Kilmoyley will be without the very influential Paudie O’Connor but expect his brother Maurice to have a big bearing on the game.

Daniel Collins leads the team inside the white lines, his general play and ability from frees is a given.

Tom Murnane who has just announced his retirement from inter county hurling will be doing his best to see Kilmoyley over the line, his brother Maurice is part of the management team as the Murnane family continue their work for the club on and off the field.

Sean Maunsell’s ability to win ball in the air is always a feature of their arsenal, James Godley will probably operate at midfield with Adrian Royle wearing the number fourteen shirt. Rumour has it that Jordan Brick is carrying an injury I saw him do well recently for the intermediates.

As with all games this weekend, it is impossible to call.

Ballyduff v Abbeydorney — Saturday, 7.15pm

The champions Ballyduff meet Abbeydorney on Saturday evening as they attempt to put championships back to back.

Ballyduff and Abbeydorney clash in 2016.

Ballyduff have had a late start to their training regime this year due to various factors, Abbeydorney started training later this this year also but by design as they focus totally on the Nelius Flynn.

Abbeydorney already have a trophy in the bag this year and will be hoping that they can add the big one by the end of August.

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Ballyduff are captained by Paud Costello, Paud is injury free this year Ballyduff will need his leadership and neve say die attitude to get them over the line.

Games between Abbeydorney and Ballyduff are always tight, the county men on both sides will obviously be expected to be to the fore.

Ballyduff will of course be hoping the Boyle brothers can repeat last years heroics, young Jack Sullivan will surely be an even bigger influence this year.

PJ Gorman will be the net minder, Eoin Ross will attempt to curb the Abbeydorney attackers,Michael Boyle and Daniel O’Carroll will patrol the midfield area, but it is up front that Ballyduff pose the huge threat with Padraig Boyle and Jack Goulding on top of their game recently.

Abbeydorney will be hoping that Kieran Dineen can shackle Padraig Boyle, Brian Donovan captains Abbeydorney from the end line as he guards the net, Brian has a very big influence on the team as not only is he a great shot stopper he is also has a great eye for game management from pucks out and instructions to his defenders.

Nigel Roche is usually given custody of the placed balls, his accuracy will have a bearing on the result especially if Ronan Donovan and James O’Connor can win frees by running at the Ballyduff defence.

The O’Leary brothers and cousins are sure to combine their hurling prowess and power to see Abbeydorney over the line.

I think this game might have come a couple of weeks early for Ballyduff but even they are defeated, rule them out of the championship at your peril.

Ballyheigue v Crotta O’Neills — Sunday 2pm

Ballyheigue, managed by Crotta man Brendan O’Mahony will begin their challenge for the Nelius Flynn Cup when they take on Crotta O’Neills.

Crotta O’Neills with two minor championship wins under their belt are the up and coming team add to that the fantastic facilities they have developed in Dromakee, plus the fact that they have at least six county players on their team.

Ballyheigue will have to be at their best to beat Crotta.

It is the first year in may that the great Tom Cronin will not don the green and red for his beloved club, but he has been on the side line at the games I’ve been at offering his encouragement and advice to the young guns.

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Ballyheigue who have been struggling for the past couple of seasons to get back to the heights of previous years seem to have regrouped and have had good numbers at training.

Ballyheigue have come close in a couple of games in the county league and are progressing nicely towards the championship.

Danny Casey skippers the team Diarmuid Walsh doubles as play-maker and place pucker along with Phillip Lucid.

Michael Leane has joined the Kerry panel this season and is sure to bring the experienced gained from working with the county set up to the table on Sunday.

Crotta O’Neills must be the red hot favourites to take the honours in this tie, although Shane Nolan told me he fears that Crotta’s training has not been ideal as the county players have been absent until next week.

It is very hard to see beyond a Crotta win, in fact I have a small fancy that they may go all the way to the final.

Causeway v St Brendan’s — Sunday 3.45pm

Causeway and St Brendan’s will play in the final hurling championship game of the weekend at a quarter to three on Sunday.

Causeway report that they have a huge sick bay with as many as twelve players out through injury.

They will welcome their county men back for Sunday and will be hoping that the addition of the Murphy’s, Brandon Barrett Jason Diggins and Colum Harty to the likes of Muiris Delaney, Anthony Fealey and Gary Carey will be enough to get them into the winners draw for the next round.

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Maurice Leahy has returned to manage the club and has surrounded himself with a very experienced backroom team including John Joe Canty, one has to admire the club for having faith in their inhouse personnel, St Brendan’s have also gone back to local management with Pat O’Driscoll plotting their way through the competition.

Anthony Fealy gives chase to David Griffin in last year’s clash.

Tommy Barrett will walk up for the toss with Rory Horgan, Rory will be hoping for a happier championship than last year.

St Brendan’s have two men on the county panel, Daithi Griffin has been one of the first names on the team sheet for Kerry playing at midfield and at right halfforward.

Cian Hussey, Fionan Mackessey and Stephen Leen will add the youthful energy to the experience of the John Egan up front.

Darren Delaney is between the posts for St Brendan’s and their defence will be backboned by the best centre back in the county Darren Dineen.

I saw them play in the county league in a lively game that ended level, don’t be surprised if its the same result on Sunday.

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