Kerry Hurlers Hoping for Historic 3-in-a-row

All-Ireland U-21 B Hurling Championship Final - Preview
By Murt Murphy for
It is not very often that Kerry followers can watch a Kerry hurling team on live TV and its probably ever more rare to be watching a Kerry team that will be attempting to achieve a three in a row, as John Meyler will lead his troops into battle on the hallowed turf of Semple Stadium on Saturday afternoon, against Westmeath with a 5pm throw in, in this the All-Ireland U-21 B Hurling Championship Final.

Games between Kerry and Westmeath at any grade tend to be tight affairs and it is very hard to call a winner in advance because much will depend on what happens on the day.

Kerry beat Roscommon in the semi final by a single point (0-13 to 0-12) up in Toomevara but knows they will have to improve dramatically to have any chance of beating Westmeath in the home of hurling in Thurles.

While the Kerry defence, superbly marshalled by Brian Murphy at fullback, were the foundation of that win, the Kerry attack failed to fire and if Kerry is to win, then the attack must show marked improvement.

It is significant that Kerry boss John Meyler has changed his formation up front with Darragh O'Connell, who missed the semi final because of his summer in the US, coming back into the side and that is a huge plus for the Kingdom.
Young Padraig O'Keeffe switches from wing back to wing forward, with Ronan Kenny, the only half forward to keep his place on that line.
Colm Harty moves to corner forward and with a fit again Shane Nolan and Ballyduff minor Pat Joe Connolly, the tack certainly looks more potent. However eyebrows have been raised about the omission of Sean Weir, who played well against Roscommon and was possibly man of the match for Crotta O'Neill's last weekend. However he went off in that club game, not knowing the game was over, following a crack in the jaw, so he may not be fully fit.

Sean Dowling from Kilmoyley joins Brendan Brosnan at midfield which allows Abbeydorney centre back, PJ Keane to drop back to wing back, to fill the spot vacated by Patrick O'Keeffe.

Westmeath will provide stern opposition as they have come through a Leinster campaign beating Wicklow and Meath, before destroying Donegal in the All-Ireland semi final. They have a number of their senior squad in action, including Aaron Craig, Kieran Martin and Alan McGrath while Killian Murphy and Barry O'Meara are free scoring forwards who will take some watching.

Kerry boss John Meyler is confident that Kerry can step up on their semi final display "I was pleased the way our defence played against Roscommon but we just never got going upfront. We have Darragh O'Connell back for this final and I have also pushed Patrick O'Keeffe into the attack. Shane Nolan was struggling with injury against Roscommon, and hopefully he will thrive in the wide expanses of Semple Stadium. The pitch was tad rough the last day and tight so this should suit us a lot better and I feel we are stronger and better prepared for the final."

The Kerry boss is delighted to be in another final and to be playing in Thurles "Its great that in September, we are still hurling and that the lads that are out of the county Championship are still playing. The fact that game is on in Thurles the home of hurling is a bonus. The exposure on live TV is an added bonus when promoting the game among young hurlers. It has been a very successful year for us, winning the Christy Ring Cup and we are looking to find a few backs for the future so this is a very important game for us.

I haven't seen Westmeath but they are obviously a very strong side but I am confident that our lads can maintain Kerry's winning run "concluded the Kerry boss.

The Kerry U21 team V Westmeath on Saturday 10th September has been announced and is as follows:
1. Martin Stackpoole (Lixnaw) 2. James O Connor (Abbeydorney) 3. Brian Murphy (Causeway)
4. Jason Bowler, Captain (Ballyduff) 5. PJ Keane (Abbeydorney) 6. Anthony Fealy (Causeway)
7. Jason Leahy (Causeway) 8. Brendan Brosnan (Lixnaw) 9. Sean Dowling (Kilmoyley)
10. Darragh O'Connell (Abbeydorney) 11. Ronan Kenny (Ballyheigue)
12. Patrick O'Keeffe (Glenflesk) 13. Colm Harty (Causeway )
14. Shane Nolan (Crotta O'Neills) 15. Pa Joe Connolly (Ballyduff)

Substitutes : 16. Nicholas Leen (Ballyduff) 17. Stephen Leen (Ardfert) 18.Anthony Carroll (Ballyduff)
19. Brian Leen (Abbeydorney) 20. Kevin Orpen (Ardfert) 21. Sean Weir (Crotta O'Neills)

22. Alan O'Leary (Kenmare) 23. Adam White (Causeway) 24. John Brendan O'Halloran (Kilmoyley)
25. Conor Fitzelle (Kilmoyley) 26. Micheal O Sullivan (Kilgarvan) 27. Gary Marshall , Douglas 28.Thomas Quill, Crotta O'Neills
Bainisteoir John Meyler
Trainer Joe O'Connor
Maor Foirne Frank Flannery
Selector John Hennessey
Selector Sean O'Shea