Kerry Seeks to Topple Down

4 p.m.: SF A Final Down vs. Kerry

It also, however, in the annals of the NY GAA, gives us two teams worlds apart. Kerry are entrenched in New York folklore. John (Kerry) O'Donnell is forever enshrined in the history books as a chairman of the Association in 1940, '55, '58-'60, and '72-'73, and for his link to Gaelic Park through his bar and his activities with New York and Kerry teams over the years.

They also have Thomas McNamara in '47, '48, '51 and '52, Donal Keating '65, '66 and 6'8 and the present chairman John Riordan. Add to the history books 25 senior titles with the six in a row side of '49 to '54 taking pride of place. While in reWITH any final in any sport, there are favorites and the hopeful, the form teams and the surprise packets. This year's senior final certainly throws us the form teams in New York, with Down and Kerry rising to the top.cent history '99, and the three in a row squad of '04 to '06 have won the championship, while Down have never won the senior title.

Indeed, Down's record books have been forged in the recent history, Junior A title in '06, Senior B in '07 and now a final appearance. Their one and only chairman was Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1949.

It is without doubt David versus Goliath. The games of the Gael certainly take pride in their history, but they are played on the field with this year's championship giving us some varied results.

Down reached the final by virtue of their second place finish in the group stages when they amalgamated seven wins against two losses. The defeats came against Leitrim by a point 0-8 to 0-7, and Cork 1-10 to 0-10. They beat Kerry in the league encounter 1-11 to 1-8 back on June 15.

That was Kerry's only loss on the field as they lost four points in the boardroom but won all the games in results on the field. Both teams had comprehensive wins in the semifinals, Kerry 1-12 to 0-8 over Cork with Down 0-14 to 0-12 ahead of Leitrim last Sunday. Probably the most consistent squad over the year when crunch time came in the playoffs, they stormed through the semis to set up this eagerly anticipated game.

Kerry are back in the final after a one year absence with a majority of the team that won the title in '06 back for another crack. Niall Corbett is back to his best and should be on the NYT panel for Galway.

Anthony Glacken is on fire all year he is the premier full back this year in New York. Ian Kellegher, Darren Walsh and Damien Walsh are consistency personified. Introduce Eoghan O'Mahoney off the bench and the back line gets better.

Declan Griffin is a powerful midfielder since his arrival from Feale Rangers. His partner may be Dave McSweeney or Gearoid O'Sullivan.

Up front the focal point is Stephen Kavanagh. The Magic Man has been on fire all year. Frees are a gimme, with his open play impressive also.

Dermie Foley, Kevin Walsh, who covers acres, and Bingo O'Driscoll, who already has four county medals, complement him. Colm O'Connor on the 40 is in the mold of Ogie Moran for all who remember the eight time All-Ireland winner. Dogged, determined and a great ball carrier.

Down will counter with a team that is backboned by Mark Dobbins, Eugene O'Hagan and Liam Farrell. With Ciaran Fearan as manager, they have been the foundation that has taken the team from the worst in New York five years ago at junior level to the template that all clubs should follow.

Said Dobbins when asked, "We have come through the ranks and worked hard to get here over the past few years. Ciaran Fearan, Kevin Coulter and Eugene O'Hagan are big reasons for the growth of the club.

"We hoped to reach the semifinals and then take it from there. It's great to have an opportunity to take on Kerry, but we know it will be an extremely difficult assignment."

Certainly the team is built around players that battle hard for each other. Brian Murray, O'Hagan, David McGreevey and Gary Cornyn give forwards nightmares as they constantly hound at the back. Mark Kelly is a quality keeper and also deserves a start against Galway.

Midfield is their strength, with Sean Munnelly standing out as the engine room. The 100,000 mile man runs from first whistle to last. Brendan McArdle can play anywhere but has settled at nine for the last couple of games.

Up front Dobbins and Barry McElduff are household names in New York. Maccer already has a Junior A medal and man of the match award on the mantle, while Dobbins is the straw that stirs the Down drink. Pat Downey on the square will have a battle with Glacken akin to Kavanagh and O'Hagan at the other end. The outcomes in these battles may decide the contest.

A prediction then, or is it insane to even attempt it with these two teams? The Kerry defense has fewer weaknesses than Down, and over the course of the hour should be able to hold the machine to a score that is manageable. Glacken and Corbett will not allow anything else.

Paddy O'Connor will encourage from the sideline with a mentality from his playing days. Never give up always battling. With Kavanagh and Walsh they have two bonefide game breakers.

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