PREVIEW: It’s Winner Take All As Kerry Face Westmeath On Sunday

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Mike O’Halloran previews the Allianz National League Division 2A game between Westmeath v Kerry on Sunday in Mullingar…

Kerry’s Daniel Collins in action against Westmeath in 2016. Photo by Gavin O’Connor

KERRY head to Mullingar on Sunday to take on Westmeath in a winner takes all game that will see the winner progress to the final of the competition.

Westmeath are unbeaten so far and sit at the top of the table with wins over Kildare, Carlow and Meath and London, while Kerry had wins over London, Kildare and Meath but came unstuck against Carlow at home a couple of weeks ago.

Kerry gave Meath a bit of a dusting in Tralee prior to the football game in the double header in Austin Stack Park.

The big win against Meath should give Kerry plenty of confidence in facing Westmeath as they only managed a one point win over Meath when they met, but I suppose as, Brian Cody would say, local derbies take on a life of their own and Meath probably raised their game when they took on their near neighbours.

Westmeath who have fourteen clubs to pick from will think they are operating at a higher level than Kerry, given that they had a very good under 21 team in 2016.

They also ran Tipperary close enough in the All Ireland qualifiers in Thurles and did well against Limerick.

Kerry were disappointed with the manner of their loss to Carlow and if there isn’t much between Carlow and Westmeath the trip to Mullingar will be difficult.

I believe there is enough resilience in this present bunch of hurlers to come away from Cusack Park with a win.

Martin Stackpoole remains between the sticks, the fullback line trio of Buckley, Murphy and Sean Weir is the one line that has been unchanged for a number of games now.

Young Tomas O’Connor of Crotta O’Neills continues in the number five shirt, Michael Boyle again is at centre back after playing well there against Meath.

Daniel Collins is on his left at wing back, Brandon Barrett wears eight but he is joined by Paudie O’Connor as the Kilmoyley man switches positions with Daithi Griffin.

Padraig Boyle the captain starts at centre forward as he did against Meath, I’m not convinced that this is his best position I think he is far more dangerous close to goals.

The bigman from O’Dorney, Brendan O’Leary, slots in at number twelve and his power and ability in the air could be vital to counteract the ball winning skills of Westmeath.

Jordan Conway ‘the duracell bunny’ from Crotta O’Neills operates in one corner with Ballyduff dual star Jack Goulding taking the last starting shirt, the Lixnaw hurling genius Shane Conway will torment the Westmeath backs from full forward.

But just look at the talent on the bench, all household names; Darren Dineen, Tom Murnane, Paddy Kelly who is returning from injury as is Shane Nolan.

The remaining replacements are no slouches either; Stephen Murphy, James O’Connor, the young Crotta star Barry O’Mahony, Daniel O’Carroll of Ballyduff who has operated well in a number of positions for the county this year.

Maurice O’Connor and Colum Harty, who has poached a couple of goals in the league already, along with Philip Lucid complete a formidable bench.

The Team in full is;

1 Martin Stackpoole,
2 John Buckley,
3 Bryan Murphy,
4 Sean Weir,
5 Tomás O’Connor,
6 Michael Boyle,
7 Daniel Collins,
8 Brandon Barrett,
9 Paudie O’Connor,
10 Dáithí Griffin,
11 Padraig Boyle (captain),
12 Brendan O’Leary,
13 Jordan Conway,
14 Shane Conway,
15 Jack Goulding

Replacements; 16 Stephen Murphy 17 Darren Dineen 18 Tom Murnane 19 James O’Connor 20 Barry O’Mahony 21 Daniel O’Carroll 22 Paddy Kelly 23 Maurice O’Connor 24 Philip Lucid 25 Colum Harty 26 Shane Nolan

Westmeath will also provide the opposition in the Joe McDonagh Cup with a trip to Tralee on Sunday May 20th.

The Joe McDonagh Cup begins for Kerry on Saturday May 5th in Carlow, a week later Laois will come to Tralee.

An away trip to Trim will be the next outing on Sunday June 3rd to play Meath and then its on the bus to Antrim on Sunday June 10th. The final of The Joe McDonagh Cup will be played on June 30.

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