Kerry eager to make amends
Unsurprisingly, most of the questions posed to Peter Keane ahead of Kerry’s Munster v Cork final next Sunday are about Kerry’s Munster v Cork semi-final last November.
The other counties have played a lot of football since this somewhat seismic result in Pairc Ui Chaoimh at the end of last year. It’s easy to argue that Cork beating Kerry at Leeside in the Championship can never really be described as ‘seismic’, but the way Cork took the win this afternoon thanks to Mark Keane’s goal at the very end of extra time has certainly sent shock waves. through the championship to Dublin, winning a sixth All-Ireland title in December.
Keane wasn’t wrong, when he spoke in the run-up to last year’s provincial semi-final, how Kerry vs Cork matches in the Championship are often very close competitions, so it’s easy. to understand that everyone in the Kingdom’s camp remains on alert as Ronan McCarthy and his players go up the N22 on Sunday morning.
“Kerry Cork, it’s still very, very close, and even around this time last year I would have told you (to the media) that I didn’t think there was much in it and it was like that. that it happened, “Keane said late last week. “It’s a Munster final and there’s never much that I would see over the years.”
Kerry v Cork fixtures have been relatively rare in recent years, and certainly much less frequent than between 2002 and 2010, when counties were almost always played twice a year (League and Championship) and competed fairly often three times a year. year. Now, with Cork out of Division 1 football for the past five years – and even the McGrath Cup on blocks in recent seasons – encounters between Munster’s age-old rivals have been considerably fewer, although that is not decreasing. no rivalry. Keane, at least, doesn’t give much importance to the fact that Sunday’s game sees the (shared) Division One League champions face off against a team that barely clung to their Division Two status ago. just a few weeks.
“I wouldn’t pay much attention to divisions, if you apply the same logic last year it was Division Three versus Division One,” he said. “I don’t think that matters a whole lot, it’s a Munster final and these things take a life of their own.
“You take Cork, they’re strong all over the pitch. They came out of (division) three last year, they maintained their status in division two this year, they’ve done a lot of good things, so we look forward to a very difficult challenge.
“I think they have very good players, I think they were very strong, I think they had big results throughout the second division. They scored big scores, 3-21 or 3-22 against Westmeath They had a big score against Clare too.
“You look at guys like (Ian) Maguire, a guy my brother would be involved with through the Barrs (St Finbarrs), a really good midfield player. Take Daniel Dineen, a new guy from Cill na Martra, who looks like a very good player. You have like (Brian) Hurley, Ruairi Deane, who are well seasoned at this stage, very, very good forwards. A strong goalkeeper in Micheal Martin. Mattie Taylor at the back wing Another guy who played in 2019, Sean White, a really good player. They have good strength all over the court and obviously with the kicking ability that they have and if you look at the number of attacks that they have. they’ve done in the games they’ve played, most recently the last three, they’ve been really strong. “
On the other hand, Kerry certainly seems to have absorbed the painful lesson of last year’s loss to Cork, and has come out this year with what seems like a very clear vision of how they want to play. Young players like David Clifford, Sean O’Shea and Diarmuid O’Connor are in another year of their senior careers and so much the better, it seems, for the extended hiatus earlier this year, which gave new players a chance to develop. physically during containment.
The late start to the 2021 season and the failed nature of the games to come quickly and frequently doesn’t seem to have hurt Kerry either on the evidence of their league and league performances in Munster.
The leaders, new and old, have stepped up, and there’s a depth in Kerry’s squad, up to 23 or 24 every match day, which suggests they’re on a level playing field now – maybe even better – than Dublin in terms of depth on the bench.
“From a management perspective (team depth), something you like to have,” agrees Keane. “On a personal level it gets harder because when you manage teams you have a great interaction, you build a good relationship with all the players and sometimes you might have to tell a guy he’s not. not in (the team) or not in the team or whatever and it’s difficult, no doubt about it.
“I think the experience we’re getting this year from our leaders… you take someone like Tommy Walsh or David Moran, Paul Murphy, Tadhg Morley, Paul Geaney the guys you just mentioned [Gavin White, Jason Foley, Diarmuid O’Connor, Paudie Clifford]… guys who have really progressed in the last six or eight months, sometimes it’s something that happens, it’s just the way things go. I think the guys just have more experience, if you look at our squad over the last few years – and you talk about the under-20s and under-20s – a lot of these guys are still very young and I just keep on to say it. And it’s about the older guys helping and guiding them. “
Managing in the continued grip of a pandemic continues to challenge Keane, his management team and his players. On the lingering specter of the Covid-19 virus, Keane said: “This is something that we have had to get used to over the past twelve months in particular. We take every precaution possible, we follow all GAA guidelines. and it’s about protecting ourselves and the members of the community. “
When the spectators return, although fewer than desired will be at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday, he said: “I mentioned this above in Tipperary last week it was great to hear the crowd coming back and Obviously it would be great if we could have an even bigger crowd in Killarney. Jock Stein, the famous manager of (Glasgow Celtic), once said that football is nothing without the fans, and I guess that does. applies here. Hearing the atmosphere around Thurles on the last day was awesome. “
What about the possibility that lightning strikes twice and Cork finally wins the long-awaited championship against Kerry in Kerry?
“We didn’t go to Cork last year with the intention of losing, but obviously we did and that’s something we have to overcome last year. We put in a lot of work and we him let’s say how she’s doing next week.
“What you want to change from last year is you want to change the result. We came into the game last year, we did a lot of work, we won the League and things didn’t happen that day. and sometimes it does. Obviously you don’t want that to happen and you don’t want that to happen on a day that you don’t have a backdoor or whatever , but it happens (happens) and it has happened and you’re just trying to rectify it for the next week.
“You’re going into a two-horse race and anything can happen. Obviously you don’t want that to happen but, look, we’re preparing as best we can, with the intention of trying to win the game, and Other than that, things do someday and you just hope the cards go right for us. “