herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Behind enemy lines as Kerry relish rivalry with Boys in Blue

THEY believe their Kingdom will come on Sunday -- but Kerry fans are worried about the Dubs.

Dropping in behind enemy lines, the Herald stormed the 'home of Gaelic football', where supporters are hoping for the return of Sam and a cracking day out in Croke Park against the Blues.

"Everyone is very excited, more so because it's Dublin too -- with the old rivalry for the country boys. It's brought zest and vibrancy to the campaign," said Gillian Wharton-Slattery, Deputy Mayor of Tralee.

"Dublin were out of the scene for so long, and there's a lot of respect there."

Home to 36 All-Ireland titles already, Kerry's well-rehearsed, diehard fans are gearing up to take on the mighty Brogans -- and expectations are high.

"The one-year break has really made everyone want it more -- it makes the winter very long when there's no All-Ireland," said Laura O'Keeffe, teacher at CBS Primary school in Tralee -- the county's biggest GAA school.

"It's like someone is gate-crashing our party when we're not in the final," said CBS vice-principal Pat Costello.

"There's a little pressure now, but Kerry love playing Dublin more than any other county -- there's great banter and respect.

"The support is still great too. Even though they're going for their 37th title, there's no stopping them, it'll be huge for the county."

Laura -- daughter of four-time All-Ireland winner Ger O'Keeffe -- said it's the ultimate youth versus experience battle, but is confident Kerry will prevail.

"We both know how to win and lose, nearly everyone in Kerry wanted it to be Dublin instead of Donegal.

"We should do it. It was written in the stars."

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Killarney, the members at Dr Crokes are hoping for a celebration, as club hero Colm Cooper leads his men out.

"The support has been phenomenal -- we're the biggest club in Kerry, with 1,000 members. It's great for us, because we have five men on the panel," Dr Crokes chairman Vincent Casey told the Herald.

Should Kerry prove victorious, Colm will be the first captain to bring back the Sam Maguire -- despite a win for Dick Fitzgerald in 1914, there was no cup to return to the clubhouse.

"We're very hopeful -- there's no player more than Colm who deserves to lift the silverware, he has brought so much to the game," said Vincent.

Walkinstown man Terry Potts is also flying the green and yellow flag. "My wife is from Kerry, so I've been here for 20 years now. I've no affiliation to the Dubs anymore, I've a couple of aunts in Dublin that don't talk to me."

Over 300 hardcore Dr Crokes members will trek to the capital for the decider, to see Colm take on Pat Gilroy's troops.

The 28-year-old will battle it out alongside fellow Dr Crokes men Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary, Johnny Buckley and Daithi Casey.

"Trains are already packed with reservations to go to Dublin -- local buses are organising extra timetables and tours up as well," said Gillian.

hnews@herald.ie

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