THEY ARE TWO of the leading lights in the GAA but for the Kerry footballers and Kilkenny hurlers, it has been an unusual spring so far.
Over the past decade the pair have won eight National League titles and contested 11 finals between them.
Yet both are currently pointless and rooted to the bottom of their respective divisions.
Thus their encounters over St Patrick’s weekend are critical clashes in their efforts to retain their top flight status.
Kerry have lost their first four games, have a scoring difference of -27 and must get something out of their Division 1 home tie with Down on Saturday night in Austin Stack Park.
But Tomás Ó Sé will miss out through suspension after being sent-off last Sunday against Donegal while injuries result in Marc Ó Sé (hip) and Kieran Donaghy (ankle) being doubtful for the game.
Kerry were already without several established stars for last week’s defeat against Donegal. Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin have yet to feature competitively following the conclusion of their respective All-Ireland club campaigns with Dr Crokes and Finuge.
Bryan Sheehan is also currently marked absent while his established midfield partner Anthony Maher may feature on Saturday depending on his recovery from the calf injury sustained against Dublin in February.
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody. Pic: INPHO
Kilkenny have also started slowly, suffering defeats to Galway and Tipperary in their first two games in Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League.
They face Waterford next Monday in Nowlan Park but Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid are both still long-term casualties while Michael Rice, Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh are all set to return to the fray over the next month.
In better news for Kilkenny, Michael Fennelly may be available for next Monday’s tie having missed last weekend’s game with a minor hamstring injury.