PREVIEW: How Will Your Club Fare In The County League 2015?

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THIS weekend, the county league season gets underway with eight teams from the Tralee area looking to impress in 2015. Gavin O’Connor predicts how they’ll fare…

Austin Stacks, Division 1

Opening game – Kilcummin (Away) Sunday March 29, 2pm.

Season’s Key Man – Kieran Donaghy 

Manager – Stephen Stack

In what’s become a bit of a regular shambles, Austin Stacks still have to play the 2014 county league final against Crokes, with the league fixture in May doubling up as the final.

It’s hard to see Stacks with as much conviction this year. With what the Rock have been through over the past six months it might be hard to focus themselves on the nitty gritty of club league football.

Still, they have the quality to stay well clear of danger and maintain their place near the front of the pack.

Prediction – 3rd

Shane O'Callaghan shoots against Ballincollig in the Munster Club Championship last year. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Shane O’Callaghan shoots against Ballincollig in the Munster Club Championship last year. Photo by Dermot Crean.

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Kerins O’Rahilly’s, Division 1

Opening game – Finuge (Away) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – David Moran

Manager – Barry O’Shea

If the rumblings around town are correct, Kerins O’Rahilly’s are ready to give 2015 a serious rattle.

Ravaged by the emigration of 11 players last year, the Blues are boosted by the return of Tommy Walsh and former Kerry minor Danny O’Sullivan.

Another great addition is former Limerick manager, Maurice Horan, who could well be the key to success this year.

The league will be extremely important for Tommy Walsh’s Kerry aspirations. He badly needs games to come up to speed between the long layoff at the end of the NFL and the opening round of the Munster championship.

Prediction – 2nd 

Jack Savage surveys his options at the match on Saturday between Kerins O'Rahilly's and Legion in Killarney. Photo by Dermot Crean

Jack Savage, will play an extremely important part in this year’s league. Photo by Dermot Crean

John Mitchels, Division 2

 Opening game – Templenoe (Away) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – Alan O’Donoghue 

Manager – Ger Dan Dennehy

Already this year there has been good news for the Mitchels; two current players have pulled on the Kerry jersey, Niall Sheehy for the U21s and Shane O’Connor for the seniors in the McGrath Cup.

Niall Sheehy performed very well for the Kerry U21s in the pre-season Hastings Cup tournament. Consolidating their Division 2 status last year, the Mitchels are bringing through some talent and will be looking to move up a grade.

Prediction – 5th

Room to improve for John Mitchels in 2015. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Room to improve for John Mitchels in 2015. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

Ardfert, Division 3 

Opening game – Annascaul (Home) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – Damien Wallace

Manager – Stephen Wallace

The 2015 All-Ireland Intermediate campions will be looking to build on their amazing year. Ardfert will be the only team in Division 3 which will take part in this year’s county championship. Time well tell if they can make the leap up.

Joining them in the division are Junior All-Ireland champions Brosna. It will be interesting to see if these two teams can maintain the confidence that comes from glory or if they’ll be suffering from All-Ireland hangover.

Prediction – 1st

Ballymacelligott, Division 3

Opening game – Keel (Away) Sunday 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – Aidan Breen

Manager – Stephen O’Brien

Rooted more to the bottom end of the table in last year’s county league, Ballymac will not want to spend 2015 worrying about the looming treat of relegation. Ballymac will be encouraged by their win over All-Ireland Junior champions, Brosna in last year’s campaign.

With the inclusion of former ladies All-Ireland winner, Bridget Leen as a selector, Ballymac can lay the claim for being the most progressive hinterland in this year’s county league.

Prediction – 7th

Na Gaeil, Division 3 

Opening game – St Pats (Away) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – Darragh Carmody

Trainer – John Halpin

2014 was a terrific year for Na Gaeil, they won promotion to Division 3 and Andrew Barry collected the club’s first ever All-Ireland medal as part of the victorious Kerry minor team

Jack Barry also starred for the Kerry U21s at centre field and gained a lot of experience with UCD in the Sigerson Cup. Na Gaeil, were delighted to get out of division four after numerous attemps, if they hold onto their best players they could push for promotion again, but that may be be a big ask.

Prediction – 6th 

Former Kerry minor, Darragh Carmody is Na Gaeil's main man in the forward line. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Former Kerry minor, Darragh Carmody is Na Gaeil’s main man in the forward line. Photo by Dermot Crean.

St Pats, Division 3 

Opening Game – Na Gaeil (Home) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Season’s Key Man – Kieran Hurley

Manager – Derek O’Sullivan

It was a year to forget for the Blennerville club in 2014. Getting relegated from division 2 was tough to take,  St Pat’s hardly put up any resistance on the way down.

Although, there has been a positive note this year already with Paul McMahon starting a game with Kerry in the McGrath Cup. With Kerry Junior Kieran Hurley, they’ll be hoping he can get the scores that will stop the rot and keep them up.

Prediction – 8th

Paul McMahon in action for St Pats. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Paul McMahon in action for St Pats. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

Churchill, Division 4

Opening game – Cordal (Away) Sunday March 22, 2pm

Key man – Ivan Parker 

Manager – Shane Kelly

Churchill were very unlucky not to get promoted to Division 3 with local rivals, Na Gaeil, gaining promotion at their expense.

It wasn’t all heartbreak however. Kerry minor Ivan Parker won an All-Ireland medal which will be a fantastic boost to the club to see the hard work being done is paying off. There will be fire in their eyes out in Samphire island to right the wrongs of 2014.

Prediction – 2nd

Austin Stacks B, Division 5

Opening game – Sneem (Away) Sunday March 22, 2pm.

Season’s Key Man – Shane Guthrie

Management – Tim McMahon and Colm Mangan

This will be the first time since 1993 that Austin Stacks will enter a B team in the county league. It’s a sign of the times that the Rock can boast such a panel of talent that one team of senior players won’t suffice.

There’s the good news, that former League of Ireland soccer player, Shane Guthrie, has returned and will be back kicking ball in Connolly Park once again with the B’s.

Prediction – 4th

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