PREVIEW: Kerry All Set For Tough Task Against Westmeath

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Mike O’Halloran looks at Kerry’s upcoming challenge against Westmeath this Sunday in Round 3 of the Joe McDonagh Cup at Austin Stack Park at 3pm…

Kerry’s Daniel Collins in action against Westmeath two years ago. Photo by Gavin O’Connor

Westmeath and Kerry are no strangers to each other in various competitions over the last number of years, such that the names of Westmeath players roll of the tongues of the Kerry hurling public.

The midlanders arrive in the Kingdom with two wins under their belts while Kerry secured their first win on Sunday last against Laois after going down to Carlow by three points in the opening round away from home.

Kerry needed to dust themselves off after the trip to Carlow where they lost by three points but could have been beaten by a few points more if Carlow had take the goal chances presented to them.

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Westmeath have scored six goals in their two outings and their ability to get two goals saw them pip Laois, while they put four past their neighbours Meath on Sunday last.

Kerry had three net shakers in their ten points win over Laois from three different players Jack Goulding, Michael O’Leary and Shane Nolan.

Martin Stackpoole has two clean sheets to his name so far and will hope to curb the goal scoring prowess of Niall Mitchell and Allan Devine.

Westmeath are without doubt a very formidable outfit and will present Kerry with a huge challenge. Last Sunday, eight separate players registered scores, four of them scoring five or more points each.

The most consistent line in the Kerry defence is the full back line where John Buckley, Brian Murphy and Sean Weir have operated, they will have to be on their toes against Niall O’Brien, Robbie Greville and Niall Mitchell who was very impressive off the bench against Laois when he scored a goal he also found the net against Meath.

The Kerry midfield will come against Eoin Price a man who notched up five points last Sunday.

Daithi Griffin could see himself face off against the great Derek McNicholas, a man who has often broken Kerry hearts in the past.

The big question in this game is, will Westmeath be able to breach the Kerry defence for goals or will home advantage give Kerry the impetus to get over the challenge of the Lakesiders?

I watched Kerry train last evening in Tralee and it was a most impressive session; high intensity interactive drills with each player giving it their all.

It was great to see Jordan Conway moving well and though he is on the bench on Sunday expect to see him in the action early.

I was very impressed to see how the lads stayed on after the session to have a “few pucks’ among themselves with Michael Boyle operating in goals, Sean Weir giving lessons on defence to young Tomas O’Connor.

It was just brilliant to see them enjoying themselves, especially in these days when sports men are continually talking of the grind of training. It bodes well for Sunday even though it will be tough against Westmeath.

The team to face Westmeath…

1. Martin Stackpoole. . Sean Weir 3. John Buckley 4. Bryan Murphy 5. Brandon Barrett 6. Daniel Collins. 7. James O’Connor 8. Shane Nolan 9. Brendan O’Leary 10. Dáithí Griffin 11. Michael Boyle 12. Barry O’Mahony 13. Jack Goulding 14. Padraig Boyle (Captain) 15. Shane Conway


16 Stephen Murphy
17 Tomás O’Connor
18 Maurice O’Connor
19 Michael Leane
20 Jordan Conway
21 Daniel O’Carroll
22 Jason Diggins
23 Evan Murphy
24 Philp Lucid
25 Paudie Quille
26 Stephen Leane

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