The Kerry senior hurling team will make the long journey to face Down in Páirc Esler, Newry this Saturday as we reach the semi final stages of the Christy Ring Cup.
The Kingdom County have reached the semi finals this year without ever having to really hit top gear. Kerry Manager John Meyler will therefore be looking for the team to up their overall performance for the bout with Down. It is without doubt going to take a big performance from the players to overcome free scoring Down.
Down have so far managed 2-38 in their last two games while Kerry will hindered by the fact that they have had a three week break from competitive action since their encounter against Meath.
Kerry won that game 1-20 to 1-17 although the score line was more comfortable then it looks with Meath scoring a last minute goal.
The backline has been strong for the Kingdom with Tom Murnane and Eamonn Fitzgerald marshalling the defence, while the decision to move John Egan upfront against Meath paid dividends with the St Brendan’s man scoring a goal that day.
Down come into the game on the back of a comfortable win in their quarter-final cup match against Meath, tallying a total score of 1-18 to 1-7. Paul Braniff scored Down’s goal on nine minutes while four Gareth Johnson points helped the Mourne men to a commanding 1-12 to 0-1 half-time lead, which ultimately led Down to ease through to the semis.
This match followed a resounding victory in the previous round over Armagh, 1-20 to 0-6; when these two sides met in Tralee in 2009 Down ran out 3-11 to 2-10 winners so expect another high scoring encounter from two strong sides.
Kerry defenders Colin Harris and Mike Conway both made the squad having been considered doubtful for the match with both suffering from hamstring injuries, Harris will start with Conway on the bench.
On a brighter note, Saturday should also see the return of a number of key regulars for Kerry from injury and suspension, including Andrew Keane and John Griffin.
Down meanwhile will once again look to Gareth Johnson, who ended the Meath match 0-6 against Meath despite missing a penalty.
Kerry have the edge having beating Gerard Moanan’s in the league defeat and they still look the team to beat in the Christy Ring cup, but frees coring Down will certainly give their all with a final at stake, a cracking match in store in Newry.
Kerry line up1 B Rochford, 2 J Godley, 3 T Murnane, 4 E Fitzgerald, 5 C Harris, 6 J Casey, 7 A Keane, 8 D Dinneen 9 J Griffin, 10 D O Connell 11 M Boyle, Captain, 12 G O’Brien , 13 J Flaherty 14 S Nolan 15 J Egan
Subs: 16 J Brendan, 17 J Fitzgerald, 18 A Royle, 19 M Conway, 20. P O’Grady, 21. L Boyle, 22, B Murphy, 23 P Costelloe, 24, C Harty, 25. P Boyle, 26. P Monson
Down team not yet available