Kerry have been handed a massive boost ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland final derby date with Cork after both Colm “Gooch” Cooper and Paul Galvin were cleared to play after recent injury scares.
Cooper was doubtful with a hip injury, and Galvin has struggled in recent days with a stomach muscle problem, but both players have been passed fit to start Sunday’s big game at Croker.
Giant full-forward Kieran Donaghy, however, will have to be content with a place on the bench as he continues his recovery from a serious foot injury.
“Kieran’s been playing football now for the last couple of weeks and showing pretty good form in training, so we’re happy enough with him. Obviously, it would be great if we had a bit more time,” said Kerry manager Jack O’Connor.
The Kerry camp know they will be in for a fierce battle on Sunday and O’Connor added, “Cork have taken a few points on board from the northern teams, where they’re getting a lot of bodies back and tackling ferociously at times.
“And the key for us is we’re going to have to move the ball very quickly because if you dwell on the ball, these fellas are taking tackling to a new level.”
Cork manager Conor Counihan has no injury worries ahead of the big game. “We have just one or two minor injuries at the minute, Ray Carey and Alan O’Connor are carrying slight knee knocks. Johnny Miskella got a bit of a twinge at training but we expect to select from a full panel,” he said.
Cork’s Anthony Lynch believes his team is well prepared for what promises to be a mouth watering final. “We’d like to think that we are ready for the game and that we have prepared well for it. Hopefully we are and we can see how it goes,” he said.
“We have young players in the team now who have plenty of experience. All of these players have had great success at under-21 level and they have enough All-Ireland titles as well at other grades with Cork. There is plenty of experience there alright and there is not a bother about that really.”
Like the rest of the country, Lynch is looking forward to another Cork-Kerry clash. He added, “They are always very tough encounters between us. It’s never been anything else against Kerry. That’s what we expect the next day as well.
“I suppose we have been looking at this game all year. Every time you play Kerry it’s going to be a tough battle anyway. You expect that, but we like to focus on ourselves as well. We like to think that we are ready for the battle.
“Kerry came through the qualifiers and people were saying this and that about them. But they are in the All-Ireland final against us next Sunday now and you’d expect no less from them.
“They have great experience coming into it and we really think that it is going to be a seriously tough battle and we’d like to think that we are ready for it.”
Grimley in Monaghan
MONAGHAN boss Seamus McEnaney has rubbished reports that his newly appointed assistant Paul Grimley could yet take over the reins in his native Armagh and walk out on the Farney County.
The Armagh players have threatened to go on strike after their county board refused to accede to a number of demands from Grimley when he was interviewed to succeed Peter McDonnell as their manager.
Grimley has since taken up a new role as assistant boss with Monaghan and McEnaney is adamant he is staying put.
“We shook hands on this arrangement and Paul will be staying,” said the Monaghan manager.
Grimley himself said, “I have given Seamus McEnaney my word and intend to stick by that.”
However, the Armagh players still believe they can help Grimley take charge of their team for next season as they look to put pressure on their county board.
A statement from the Armagh squad said, “The clubs via their nominations identified a primary candidate to whom the players remain supportive but due to what we see as personal agendas, and a flawed process, their voices have been overlooked.
“We also believe that those entrusted with safeguarding this ideal are not acting accordingly and thus no longer retain our confidence.”
Former Meath boss Sean Boylan ruled himself out of the running for the job on Tuesday morning.
Kernan in Charge
NEW Galway boss Joe Kernan has gone to his roots after taking charge of the Westerners in time for their Connacht FBD League final showdown with New York in Gaelic Park next month.
Kernan’s mother was from Ballinasloe, and he is related to former Galway players John and Pat Donnellan from the famous three-in-a-row team of the sixties.
“One of the things that was certainly a factor is that there’s a bit of Galway blood in me,” said Kernan. “I never thought about it until I was asked, but once I was asked you think, ‘Well, you know, we have contacts over there, we have family over there, we have friends over there, and there’s the quality of the footballers there.’
“So it was an accumulation of two or three things that pushed me in that direction. I didn’t think I would be going back into football but you say ‘never say never’ and when I got the opportunity, the more I talked to people and the more I found out about it, the more appealing it became to me.”
CLARE returned to All-Ireland winning ways when their under-21s defeated Kilkenny in Sunday’s Croke Park final, much to the delight of manager John Minogue.
“It means a huge amount and you can see that from the emotion on the field there,” said the Clare manager. “We haven’t had good days really since ‘97 so it’s a good victory.
“There’s a lot of young kids out there who didn’t see Clare winning in ‘95 and ‘97, they’re now nine or 10 years old and they have seen Clare winning in Croke Park. So it is important. Now, whether it will add future glory to Clare or not, we’ll have to wait and see.”
CORK boss Denise Cronin is eyeing a three in a row bid next season after her team beat Kilkenny in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
“I think the push will be no for three-in-a-row, they know what it takes to win it,” said Cronin.
“We lost against Wexford in 2007 and the players said they were a little lackluster on the day. Wexford wanted it more. That was the thing and they deserved it.
“And Cork have to deserve the three-in-a-row. They just don’t turn up any more -- the teams are too close.”
MEATH’S Brian Sheridan is the new MBNA Kick Fada champion for 2009 competition after recording the second longest kick ever of 71 meters at the Bray Emmets GAA Club. Offaly goalkeeper Padraig Kelly was second, with former champion Fintan Ruddy from Mayo third . . .
THE GAA has abandoned plans to present the Sam Maguire Cup in the middle of the Croke Park pitch after next Sunday’s All-Ireland football final following the recent debacle at the hurling final. The trophy will now be presented in the Hogan Stand . . .
WATERFORD and De La Salle star John Mullane is set to miss the county quarterfinal replay against Ballygunnar through suspension after he was sent-off for striking in the drawn game . . .
EAMONN O’Brien will continue as manager of the Meath team for next season and has been given the option of a third year after guiding his side to the All-Ireland semi-finals this season . . .
FORMER Limerick star T.J. Ryan has announced his retirement from all hurling after he helped his club Garryspillane maintain their senior status for next season . . .
BRENDAN Hackett is the new manager of the Westmeath football team after previously working with Longford, Offaly and the Irish International Rules team . . .
JAMES McCartan is the new manager of the Down senior football team, with Paddy Tally and Brian McIver as his selectors . . .
JOHN Kiely has been removed from office as manager of the Waterford footballers after five years in the job . . .
MALACHY O’Rourke is to continue as the manager of the Fermanagh footballers for a third season . . .
EAMONN McEneaney has quit his job after four years in charge of the Louth senior footballers.