Peter Keane tries to keep giddiness levels in check as Kerry run riot

Manager believes superior fitness stood to his side in the end against Cork

Kerry manager Peter Keane:  ‘The scoreboard turned nicely for us. You go back to last year and the scoreboard didn’t turn for us.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Kerry manager Peter Keane: ‘The scoreboard turned nicely for us. You go back to last year and the scoreboard didn’t turn for us.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

“They’re all wanted,” Peter Keane sighed when pondering the fundamental object of the old game: the getting of scores. “Every old point you can get, you’ll take.”– 4-22 ain’t a bad haul.

The Killorglin man squinted in the sun and moved on his toes like someone with an appointment elsewhere. Anywhere that didn’t have microphones and recorders attached. Like all Kerry men, he is suspicious of giddiness and nervous of platitudes. It’s that treacherous time: August and Dublin beckoning. Kerry minted favourites for the All-Ireland.

“It’s great to win it. Winning the Munster championship in a year when you’ve no safety net, it allows you to go out for an All-Ireland semi-final and that’s what we’re looking forward to now. We’d a good day today. The scoreboard turned nicely for us. You go back to last year and the scoreboard didn’t turn for us. You take these days when they come.”

They tend to come in Kerry more often than in most counties – as they must. Keane nodded at the idea of Mike Breen and Paudie Clifford emerging as leaders in their debut summers before spreading the praise.

“Well, I think we’ve a lot of leaders in the team. I think the two boys have done well, as have other fellas as we’ve developed throughout the year. There’s a great sense of unity, there’s a huge work ethic in the team. Maybe that work ethic was a little off the pace early on in that first quarter. Look one of the things we’ve done, we’ve pushed our fitness a lot this year. We felt that our fitness would hold out as the game went on against Cork.”

When the conversation turned to the future, the Kerry manager was non-committal.

“It is what it is,” he replied when asked about the semi-final scheduled for three rather than two weeks’ time.

And won’t the Ulster champions have an advantage having played their final in Croke Park?

“They will, yeah, but sure what can I do about that?”

And will he be heading to the capital to watch the Ulster showdown?

“I don’t know. I might have to turn in and do a bit of work at home, bank holiday weekend.”

Indeed. Always a big weekend in the Kingdom: Munster won and the half-final beckoning. Before he departed, Keane reflected on the recent departure of James O’Donoghue from the panel. The former footballer of the year took the decision to step away after struggling to get game time in their glittering forward line.

“He decided to go back to the club, maybe find a bit of form, and he has been a fantastic player for Kerry over many years. That is what it is”.

Ronan McCarthy felt that the options facing the Cork footballers are fairly straightforward. A promising opening was gradually transformed into a kind of nightmare in the sunshine but McCarthy wasn’t about to label it a catastrophe.

“Listen, it’s a setback,” he said evenly.

“You lose by two or 20, you lose and that’s it. Someone said last week a gallant defeat is still a defeat. It’s a setback, I would have felt in ’19 and ’20 we’ve played three hours of championship football, there was a point in it over the two games.

“They are the type of team and they have done it here in the league as well, you let them get ahead of you and there’s no better team to open you up. They like to play with flair and abandon and you can do that when you’re 10 points up. They are probably the best in the business at that, so it’s a game you have to stay in and keep tight and we didn’t do that.

“But that’s it, we can feel sorry for ourselves or we can dust ourselves down. They obviously go back to their clubs now and we’ve a fairly busy club programme ahead of us. You can feel sorry for yourself or go and do something about it and that’s up to the lads what they want to do.”

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