O'Shea sticks with winning formula for Donegal clash

Kerry manager Pat O'Shea has named a familiar-looking side for the Kingdom's NFL Division One opener against Donegal on Saturday at Ballybofey, throw-in 7pm.

O'Shea has made just three changes to the Kerry side which claimed All-Ireland honours last September with a 3-13 to 1-9 win over Cork at Croke Park.

Tommy Griffin replaces Tomas S Si in defence while Michael Quirke will partner Seamus Scanlon at midfield.

Speculation still remains over the future of veteran player Darragh S Si, who played a crucial role in the midfield sector last season.

One notable absentee from the line-up is Colm Cooper, with the 'Gooch' taking a break at present in Australia. He is replaced by Sean O'Sullivan of Cromane.

St. Mary's clubman Bryan Sheehan believes Cooper is a major loss to the squad, but that it will be a chance to test how well this Kerry side can cope without the talented corner-forward.

"Colm would be a loss to any team. He is the driving force behind us and the main target man and scorer," the Cork IT student said.

Cooper scored 2-19 during last year's championship campaign and was Kerry's main target man up front as they captured the Sam Maguire Cup for the 35th time.

Sheehan added: "I think it's an opportunity to see where we stand without him. The same thing could happen in the championship. He could be injured and we could be without him - anything could happen.

"It's a great opportunity to see how we cope without him. Please God we might find someone to step into the fray and do a job for us."

Although Kerry have not seen any competitive action to date this year, Sheehan has happy with his own showing for Cork IT during the McGrath Cup and he is also confident of a good league campaign for Kerry.

"Every year we take it very seriously because it sets out your stall for where you are going to be in the championship," he said.

"You want to compete against the best teams. You look at Donegal, the league champions, although they didn't progress in the championship as they would have liked.

"They are going to be a strong test for us, league champions against All-Ireland champions. We wanted to qualify for the semi-finals and finals the last couple of years because it was two extra games going into the championship. They were important for us."

Donegal have won the last two league meetings between the sides, including last March's encounter when Donegal were 1-15 to 0-13 winners at Letterkenny, with Kevin Cassidy scoring the victors' goal.

KERRY (NFL v Donegal): Diarmuid Murphy; Marc S Si, Tom O'Sullivan, Padraig Reidy; Tommy Griffin, Aidan O'Mahony, Killian Young; Mmcheal Quirke, Seamus Scanlon; Eoin Brosnan, Declan O'Sullivan, Paul Galvin (capt); Sean O'Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Bryan Sheehan.

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