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Published: 19:56 | 16/2/18

O'Rourke impressed by Kerry youngsters

​Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke​ has been impressed by Kerry's youngsters during this season's Allianz Leagues campaign.

Kerry are unbeaten in Division 1 this season following opening round wins over Donegal and Mayo, but their round 3 game against Monaghan last Sunday was postponed on the morning of the match following a pitch inspection.

The Farney County take on the Kingdom in the rescheduled game at Inniskeen on Sunday, and O'Rourke says Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice's decision to promote the youngsters has been vindicated by the performances of 19-year-old pair David Clifford and Sean O'Shea, Micheal Burns, Gavin Crowley, 22, and 24-year-old goalkeeper Shane Murphy.

"Kerry have been very impressive," O'Rourke told The Irish News.

"They've obviously gone with a very deliberate plan of introducing a lot of their underage talent and I suppose they've more underage talent than any other county."

"I think they're won the last four minor All-Ireland titles, so they're got an influx of really talented players coming through and they seem hungry. 

"They start off really well, they're playing good football, they're playing aggressive football, so it's going be a great challenge for us because that's what you get in the first division, you get playing against top quality opposition.

"It gives us a good measure of where we're at. Every week poses a challenge that you have to try to adapt to and, I suppose, impose your game plan on the opposition. 

"All these games are very much 50-50 and it'll be an interesting battle ahead, hopefully."

Both Kerry and Monaghan have named the same starting XV as for last Sunday's postponed match, with Kerry youngster David Clifford again absent with a hamstring injury.

Monaghan's star forward Conor McManus again starts on the bench for the Farneymen.

Kerry [SF v Monaghan]: Shane Murphy; Shane Enright, Jason foley, Ronan Shanahan; Paul Murphy, andrew Barry, Brian Ó Beaglaíoch; Jack Barry, Barry O'Sullivan; Micheál Burns, Dáithí Casey, Stephen O'Brien; Jack Savage, Paul Geaney, Barry John Keane.

Subs: Brian Kelly, Brendan O'Sullivan, Matthew Flaherty, Éanna Ó Conchúir, Cormac Coffey, Killian Spillane, Brian Ó Seanacháin, Peter Crowley, Mikey Geaney, Tom O'Sullivan, Adrian Spillane

Monaghan [SF v Kerry]: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Barry Kerr; Neil McAdam, Paraic McGuirk, Karl O'Connell; Darren Hughes, Niall Kearns; Dessie Ward, Dermot Malone, Fintan Kelly; Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron, David Garland

Subs: Shane Garland, Ryan Wylie, Colin Walshe, Dessie Mone, Ryan McAnespie, Thomas Kerr, Owen Duffy, Paudie McKenna, Darren Freeman, Drew Wylie, Conor McManus.

eir Sport has live and exclusive coverage of 17 Saturday matches in the 2018 Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Coverage continues on Saturday, 17 February with 2016 All-Ireland winners Tipperary hosting Wexford at Semple Stadium in hurling's Division 1A [live on eir Sport 2, throw in 7pm], and Limerick facing Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick in Division 1B [live on eir Sport 1, throw-in 7pm]. 

Mayo host Dublin at MacHale Park, Castlebar in the Allianz Football Leagues Division 1 clash on Saturday 24 February live on eir Sport 2 [throw-in 7pm], while Ulster champions Tyrone travel to Castleblayney to take on Monaghan the same evening, live on eir Sport 1 [throw-in 7pm]

Image: Inpho/John McVitty

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