Eoin Brosnan positive as Kerry move into a different league

Careers in football are short so win what you can says former All-Ireland winner

Kerry return to the league play-offs for the first time in four years this weekend after an impressive run of form since losing their first two matches.

It's a new departure for manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, whose three previous league seasons have culminated in fending off relegation rather than contesting the silverware.

Former Kerry All-Ireland winner Eoin Brosnan – who turns 36 this year and is still active with his club Dr Crokes – has no doubt that it's preferable to be still involved at the end of the season, even if the Sam Maguire was claimed in 2014 with no spring preliminaries.

“Players want to win every game and part of the reason is that if you do badly, you end up in relegation dogfights,” he says.

"There's also feeling a bit envious as you're there just training away while others get to play the big games at the end of the competition – especially in Munster where depending on the draw you mightn't be playing championship until June.

“Qualifying for the league semi-finals gives an extra week guaranteed and maybe three.

“Careers in football are only a certain length and there’s not that many competitions out there for teams to win so you’d be very proud to win a league.

“Jack O’Connor alluded to it earlier this week: players can’t go on forever and you have to win what you can.”

League victories

When O’Connor was Kerry manager, all three of his All-Ireland titles were won after picking up the league earlier in the year.

Brosnan points out, however, that Fitzmaurice has had difficulties with player availability.

“Kerry have had problems starting off with quite weak teams because of club commitments, injuries and the need to let older players have a bit more time off.

“Against Dublin and Roscommon they were probably not as strong but giving different players chances creates a huge competition for places.

"You could see it in the game against Cork which Kerry won, but were missing Darran O'Sullivan and Bryan Sheehan. "

Older players

A feature of the county's improving form has been the contribution of older players like Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy, Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O'Mahony.

According to their former team-mate, they have been catered for specially.

“They were all given personal training regimes, which seemed to suit them.

“I was talking to a couple of them and they were saying how they were really enjoying doing the work on their own and away from the panel sessions.

“Injuries appear to have cleared up as well. Another factor is that Kerry only came back from their winter holiday on January 10th and in the first league match they played Dublin, who had taken their holiday before Christmas. There was also very poor weather, which creates problems for training.”

He envisages the new GAA Centre of Excellence in Tralee as being of considerable help when it comes on stream over the next year.

“The first pitches should be ready in September or October and the rest of the facilities maybe in a year’s time, but it’s really important to have the pitches.

“I can remember training having to be switched to UL to get a pitch, which is bad for Kerry. It would be moved at around 5.30 just as fellas were coming in from Limerick and Cork.”

Kerry manager Fitzmaurice makes four changes for the weekend. He continues the policy of rotating goalkeepers with Brian Kelly coming in for All Star Brendan Kealy. There are two changes in the half backs. Aidan O’Mahony, who captains the team, and Fionn Fitzgerald replacing Killian Young and Pádraig O’Connor.

At corner forward, fit again Darran O’Sullivan takes over from Alan Fitzgerald, who kicked five points in the win over Cork.

Roscommon also make four changes to the side that lost narrowly to Dublin to for Sunday’s semi-final at Croke Park.

Goalkeeper Geoffrey Claffey returns in place of Darren O’Malley whereas two of the under-21 side defeated by Mayo in the provincial final last weekend, wing back Seán Mullooly and forward Diarmuid Murtagh, are included in place of David Keenan and Donie Shine. Conor Devaney also returns at the expense of Niall Kilroy.

KERRY (AFL v Roscommon):

B Kelly; M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O’Mahony (capt.), F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, D Moran; J Buckley, P Murphy, D Walsh; D O’Sullivan, C Cooper, S O’Brien.

Substitutes: B Kealy, B Sheehan, K Young, A Fitzgerald, P O’Connor, BJ Keane, J Lyne, B O’Sullivan, M Geaney, T Walsh, D Daly.

ROSCOMMON (AFL)

: G Claffey; S McDermott, N Collins, N McInerney; D Murray, S Purcell, S Mullooly; N Daly, C Shine; F Cregg, C Murtagh (capt.), C Devaney; D Murtagh, S Kilbride, C Cregg. Substitutes: D O’Malley, B Murtagh, D Keenan, D Shine, G Patterson, J McDermott, J McManus, N Kilroy, R Daly, R Stack, T Corcoran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times

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