Paul Geaney still hungry for more success with Kingdom

It took the Dingle stalwart eight years to add to his first All-Ireland medal and he believes he still has ‘more to give’ to Kerry this year

The numbers keep changing.

Nine years on and 2014 has the peculiarity to feel both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. Paul Geaney now has two All-Ireland senior medals in the bag. But just three of the old crew remain, with David Moran’s retirement earlier this week snapping another link in the chain.

Only Geaney, Stephen O’Brien and Paul Murphy are still there from Kerry’s 2014 All-Ireland final-winning squad.

Moran’s announcement was not exactly unexpected and over the winter Kerry fans wondered if Geaney, who made his championship debut in 2013, might also see last year’s All-Ireland triumph as a decent last chapter to his intercounty career.


But he wasn’t ready to close the book.

“In the past it might have been going through your mind at different stages, but this year it wasn’t really something that crept in,” says Geaney.

“It had done in years gone by. Even when I was 26, 27 and 28, it was something I would have thought about, but this season it wasn’t. I was hungry to come back and I probably feel I have more to give and to get to another level.”

He’s 32 now and just before last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin he became a father for the second time, when baby Christina was born. His first child, Páidí, is six.

“Every year you’ve got to take stock because if you’re not willing or able to put it in, or if you’re not mentally ready to take on the challenge of another year of intercounty football, you’re not only wasting your own time and your family’s time but you’re also wasting the team’s time,” adds Geaney.

“We had a child there during last season, which was a great thing for our family. My wife does do everything, like, there’s no doubt about that. The minimum disruption to me was the case.

“The fact is, though, that it’s going to disrupt the equilibrium a little bit somewhere along the line. This year I think I have a lot more to give. Hopefully we can get to the latter stages again and I can provide my best then, as well as throughout the season.”

Shouting him on from the terraces this year will be his old comrade, Moran. Geaney has always seen Moran as one of the leaders of the Kerry dressingroom. He’ll miss the Tralee man, on and off the pitch.

“He was an incredible player and even at his worst he was still one of the best. He dominated the skies through his career,” says Geaney. “Even in the years when David was injured he was still inspirational.”

Geaney remembers the lengths Moran went to, after suffering a second cruciate knee ligament injury, in order to get back to the top level.

“I was in Cork at the time and going to the gym at maybe six or quarter past six to do gym-work and there was David coming out having done his session on his way to work,” he recalls. “And he did that for three or four months in the off season. That was an inspiration to see, the work he was putting in.

“He managed to put together a 15-year career where he inspired a whole generation of footballers and midfield players, the catch and kick game he played is probably the template of Kerry football and he showed that every time he went out. I will miss receiving his direct ball and the quality ball he puts in.”

Geaney won’t be part of the Kerry squad in Donegal this Sunday as they open the defence of their Allianz League Division One title.

He underwent a procedure on an ankle problem in December after returning home from the team holiday but hopes to feature later in the league.

“I am halfway through the recovery now,” he says. “A couple more weeks and I will hopefully be back and available for selection.

“I have no on field sessions done to this point so a little bit of work to do to catch up with the gang and hopefully towards the tail end of February I will be back at it.”

Jack O’Connor indicated earlier this week that it would be a patched together Kerry team travelling to Donegal for Sunday’s game. It is clear the Allianz League is less significant to Kerry this year than it was in O’Connor’s comeback season of 2022.

Kerry, as ever, are aiming to hit their stride in the championship. And Geaney feels there is more to come from the group.

“I don’t think we’ve put together a 70-minute performance,” he says.

“At the moment we are just trying to chase that great performance, I won’t say perfect performance because that is non-existent, but to piece together a 70-minute performance that we can put down as a template that we are going to chase every day.”

Paul Geaney was speaking at the launch of the Allianz Football Leagues.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times