Tomás Ó Flatharta will be on home ground in some regards next Sunday as the Kerry native manages Galway against the Kingdom in round 4 of the NFL. The game throws in at 2.30pm in Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney.
Trying to beat Kerry on their own turf is never an easy task and it is something Galway has struggled badly to do over the past few seasons.
And when it is, as Jack O’Connor describes, a “must-win” game for the home side, the odds of doing so are even higher.
It would be a truly magnificent performance this weekend if Galway can get anything out of the trip.
In Pearse Stadium this time last year, Galway started brilliantly against Kerry with Michael Meehan doing a one man demolition job on the Kerry full-back line. However when he went off injured after bravely scoring a goal, and Tom O’Sullivan heaved a sigh of relief, the bottom fell out of the challenge and the side went down on a score-line of 2-16 to 1-09.
Likewise two years ago, down in Kerry, the Tribesmen took an awful mauling and it was shooting practice for the home side long before the finish.
Kerry were fortunate to beat Mayo in Castlebar, in their only win, courtesy of a dodgy penalty awarded to Darren O’Sullivan by Maurice Deegan, and since then they have had narrow defeats to both Cork and Dublin, so they will not be in the mood to give up any home points.
A real cause of concern for the Galway rearguard is that Colm Cooper was in scintillating form in their defeat to the Dubs and he looked to be right back at the top of his game.
If he and Kieran Donaghy are in the zone, it will be a very testing time for the Galway full-back line. Add in the fact that David Moran seems to be finally getting to grips with his midfield role in the green and gold. and it has the potential to be a very tough 70 minutes for the visitors and their travelling supporters.
Galway have been leaking badly at the back as evidenced by their -18 scoring average. That stat is not likely to be any better by 5pm on Sunday.
Galway’s cause is not helped by key forward Sean Armstrong’s withdrawal in his Sigerson game for University of Limerick last week and he is unlikely to be available. There are also major doubts over the availability of Cathal Kenny (UCD ), Gareth Bradshaw, and goal-keeper Adrian Faherty.
Ó Flatharta is likely to try to freshen things up a little in an effort to get something out of the game and that may see Diarmuid Blake and Darren Mullahy, who both came on against Mayo, getting some game time.
It is impossible to predict anything except a big Kerry victory - that Galway are 7/1 and Kerry 1/10 in the bookmakers only confirms that opinion. The only other sides being offered such long outside odds are the likes of London at 10/1 against Clare.
After Sunday things do not get any easier either as Galway host the All-Ireland champions Cork in Pearse Stadium on March 20.
Near neighbours Mayo take on Billy Joe Padden and Armagh in McHale Park this Sunday and a win would keep them in touch with the top half of the table and still in the race for a league final spot.