Will They, Won’t They?: Why Austin Stacks Can Win The All-Ireland…But Then Again Maybe Not

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AFTER securing Munster, Stephen Stack and his men set their sights on their next conquest, a tilt at the greatest prize in club football.

The question on everyone’s lips over Christmas will be, can they go all the way? Gavin O’Connor weighs up the pros and cons of this Rock side who are aiming for the second ever All-Ireland Club title.

He looks at three reasons why the Rockies can go all the way to lifting the cup in March…and three factors working against that happening.

They’ll Win It Because Of…

rockies_nire_donaghyKieran Donaghy

An inter-county heavyweight in a club championship, the momentum he has generated since the summer is one of the great comeback stories of GAA and could be enough to drag Stacks to Paddy’s Day itself.

The man can do no wrong, even in his pomp was he this effective? Donaghy is a game winner and a game changer. One thing that has come to the fore also is his flexibility in different positions.

It’s often said that he roams, which is true, but he can also be moved somewhere to anchor a position as he did against Ballincollig when he went into defensive beast mode.

Continued below…

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stacks_ballincollig_13The Meanest Defence In Ireland

The Stacks received a blow before the Munster Final when they lost their best defender in the Ballincollig game, Ronan Shanahan.

But his absence did nothing to unsettle the back line, who after some early jitters only coughed up 1-1 from the 7th minute on.

Fearghal McNamara was particular impressive, showing if one man goes down another is well able to step up to the mark.

Not only is the defence mean, they can move the ball quickly and assuredly up the park to the danger men. The defence is the Stacks engine room and their greatest asset.

stacks_nire_5Not Knowing When They Are Beaten

In three out of four games at the business end of the club championship, signs looked ominous for Stacks.

In the county final drawn game, they rallied when trailing in the final quarter against Mid Kerry with three brilliant scores from Donaghy, Carroll and O’Callaghan that showed great skill and character.

In both the Ballincollig and Nire games they gave away big leads in the opening minutes, only to give away very little after that.

In club championship, team spirit and resolve can matter more than most. Club football offers an unparalleled connection with the players alongside you.

This year, Stacks have been drawing inexhaustibly from that connection.

They May Not Because Of…

The Jump Up In Standard

There was a gulf in quality when comparing the Munster Final against the Ulster Final. I know games can sometimes take on a life of their own, but Slaughtneil v Omagh St Endas was a terrific match, played at an inter-county pace with some fantastic scores.

The Munster Final on the other hand was littered with mistakes. At one point in the second half, both sides played their part in passages of play that were error strewn.

The game was also littered with dreadful wides, in truth The Nire were poor and in the previous match Ballincollig didn’t have the forwards to cause Stacks too much trouble.

On evidence, Slaughtneil, will be an entirely different proposition.

Those Early Collapses 

What has happened at the beginning of both the Munster semi-final and final must surely be cause concern for Stephen Stack. Against Ballincollig and The Nire, they felt of the brunt of two early blitzes.

At a push you could look at the opening exchanges of the Rathmore and Dingle games as well, where The Rock’s opposition put them under pressure only to be swept away in the end.

Only in the county final did they really hit the ground running. If they allow a six point cushion to Slaughtneil the next day out, it will be extremely difficult for them to claw it back that lead from fellow provincial champions.


I know, the past means nothing, but in a competition where Cork and Dublin clubs lead the way, history has not been as kind to Kerry teams. Only four clubs have won the All-Ireland Club title from the county, all only once.

We also have as many losing finalists as we do winning ones. It’s almost 20 years since Laune Rangers were the last team from the Kingdom to win it in 95/96. Since that time, only two Kerry teams have got to the final.

Most recently, Dr Crokes, looked as if they could be the ones to end that drought, but even the Gooch couldn’t make that happen and it remains the only senior medal which doesn’t reside in his bulging trophy cabinet.

Then again, Stacks are used to bridging gaps and making their own history this year…

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