With disaster averted, Kerry can plot their championship course
Bizarre fixture list means Kingdom have to wait seven weeks for next competitive outing
Tomás Ó Sé: “It probably would have been disastrous to be relegated. Like the level in Division One now, compared to when I started out ... well there’s no comparison.”
Now that the dust has settled on Kerry’s big dig out of the relegation hole – with a little help from old friends – it’s time to figure out the next three months, because Tomás Ó Sé, for one, can’t quite understand it.
While admitting that relegation to Division Two “probably would have been disastrous” for Kerry, and they certainly have no complaints about not making the semi-finals, Ó Sé is still wondering how the Munster Council came up with their championship schedule.
Kerry have seven weeks now before they play Tipperary in the quarter-final on May 26th, the winners there play Waterford in a semi-final six days later on June 1st, before the winners there face another five-week wait until the Munster final, on July 7th.
“I can’t quite understand the layout of it all,” says Ó Sé. “From playing so many games, sometimes two in a week, now we’ve two more games in two months. I don’t see the logic in it. It’s very hard for a team to prepare for that.
“I’m not jumping ahead, saying we’e going to get through all those games. Like we played Tipp in the McGrath Cup, and that was a very physical game. If we do win that game, then it would take the best case scenario to have everyone ready to go out the next day. There’s always one or two knocks. But sure we’ll be back with the clubs for a while as well, so we’ll see.”
Ó Sé knows this scenario would have been a little harder had it come against the backdrop of relegation, that much is certain: “Sure it’s great,” says Ó Sé, who turns 35 in June. “And especially for Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s sake as well. We went up to Tyrone to win, that’s really what it was all about for us. We could never control what happened elsewhere.
“The way it worked is good, obviously, but I think we worked hard at it, and deserved to stay up, to be honest. And yeah, it probably would have been disastrous to be relegated. Like the level in Division One now, compared to when I started out ... well there’s no comparison. Sunday was close to championship as you’ll get.”
The one-point win, built on a strong first-half display, provided one half of Kerry’s survival, Paul Mannion’s late equaliser for Dublin against Donegal providing the other. It clearly helped that Kerry arrived in Omagh fresh from a five-day training camp in Portugal.
“Well I’d say the wind was more of a factor in the first half, more than the training camp. No, fellas did seem to tire a little in the last 10 or 15 minutes, but then Tyrone were always likely to come back at us at some stage. So it was a great test, and great last match to have to before the championship.
“We can go back now and keep working hard, and hopefully still say on that upward curve. Mark Griffin, Johnny Buckley, Jonathan Lyne, the new lads, have done very well.
“This is the time of year you do want to be looking towards your championship 15, and it is starting to come together a small bit for us. There is good competition there. A couple of years ago people were saying there’s nothing coming through in Kerry. But all you need is one or two. And hopefully that keeps going for us.”