PREVIEW: Kerry Hurling’s ‘El Clasico’ Is Set To Be Just That

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Mike O’Halloran is looking forward to what promises to be a titanic battle for the Garveys Supervalu Kerry SHC title tomorrow in Austin Stack Park (throw-in 3.30pm)…

Kilmoyley's, Sean Nolan, clears the ball under pressure. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Kilmoyley’s Sean Nolan, clears the ball under pressure in a championship game with Ballyduff last year. Photo by Gavin O’Connor

El Clasico is the name given to the game between the giants of Spanish soccer, Real Madrid and Barcelona, but a classic of our own is expected between the giants of Kerry hurling on Sunday.

Ballyduff are currently on top of the pile, with twenty four titles, while Kilmoyley only trail by one.

Kilmoyley have had the measure of Ballyduff in the last few years. Last year in Abbeydorney, Kilmoyley put manners on the challenge of Ballyduff, with a comprehensive defeat.

This year, Kilmoyley repeated the dose in the opening round, sending Ballyduff to the servant’s entrance.

Continued below…

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Ballyduff took up that challenge and burst through the back door, to gobble up the food on the Causeway dining room, in nine minutes. They burst into Abbeydorney’s front room and put out their fire.

What brought about this change in fortunes? Padraig Boyle and Paud Costello is the answer. Boyle has been impossible to manage, since his return from injury and Paud Costello has been solid at the back.

Kilmoyley for their part, were sent round the back by Abbeydorney, but recovered well and were rewarded, with a semi-final with last year’s finalists St Brendan’s.

St Brendan’s blew Kilmoyley away in the first half, but they were rescued by their super hero Daniel Collins when he struck for goal.

Collins was also returning from injury and like Padraigh Boyle, he is a vital cog in the Kilmoyley machiene.

Kilmoyley will have learned much from this game, as they were hard pressed in all areas, until the goal came.

They also rejigged their team at the start of the second half, with Tom Murnane returning to a more familiar area of the field.

Ballyduff have lately not lined out as per programme, I’m sure they will have to give a lot of thought to the management of Daniel Collins.

While Collins is huge for Kilmoyley, he is not their only threat, they have a whole host of household names, to call on to supplement Collins.

Their captain Aiden McCabe is faultless between the sticks.

Sean Dowling is leech-like in his marking at the back, Tom Murnane and Dougie Fitzell combine ruthless efficiency with beautiful stick work.

James Godley is firing on all cylinders these days, up front Sean Maunsell and Jordan Brick are game changers, a focussed and fully fit Adrian Royle will cause bother to the Ballyduff defence.

Ballyduff is definitely a different animal from the carcass lionised by Kilmoyley in the opening round.

Paud Costello has glued the backs together, he is well supported by David Grady (DOG), David has never been fitter and it is great to see him back to his best, after that frightening night in Abbeydorney last year when he was stretchered off.

Tom Murnane also suffered an injury that night, I visited them both in hospital and even in the throes of pain they were both talking of the 2016 championship. True warriors.

Padraig O’Grady captains the team and along with the sweet striking Eoin Ross, will attempt to curb the threat posed by the Kilmoyley half forwards.

Michael Boyle will work himself to a standstill in the middle to provide good ball to Gary O’Brien and Padraig Boyle.

Expect Jack Goulding to be given a free role, and if he is allowed to roam around the field, as he was by Abbeydorney, he will score.

El Clasico over the past few years has featured Messi and Ronaldo, this classic will feature Boyle and Collins.

Another feature of this game is the return of ‘El Cid’ in the form of the great Shane Brick. If you haven’t seen this man play, you must come to Tralee on Sunday to see the Maurice Fitz of Kerry hurling.

This game is impossible to call. Expect fuego at El Clasico Ciarraí, but goals win matches and a Ballyduff score goals.

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