Kerry’s Paul Geaney: ‘We’re fully behind the management team’
After ‘torture’ of losing to Cork in championship, footballer is relishing return to play
Paul Geaney of Kerry with the Dingle Peninsula in the background as part of the GPA’s Return to Play event to mark the first season where all senior inter-county players are part of the one player association. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Those two issues – football rumours routinely sweeping through the Kingdom, particularly after difficult Championship campaigns like last season’s, and the impact of pandemic restrictions on business owners – make for a decent starting point in a conversation with Geaney about his last 12 months.
On the football front, he felt compelled in November to tweet a picture of a belligerent-looking Donald Trump accompanied by his “fake news” catchphrase after one rumour was circulated suggesting anarchy in the Kerry camp.
According to the WhatsApp message that did the rounds, the players – with Geaney specifically mentioned – were ready to make a move against manager Peter Keane following their season-ending Munster championship defeat to Cork.
“The rumour, just to put a bottom line on it while I have the chance now, it’s absolute nonsense,” said Geaney, who was speaking at the GPA’s Return to Play event to mark the first season where all senior inter-county players are part of the one player association.
“We’re fully behind the management team, I couldn’t be stronger on that. As an elder statesman in the team, it’s important for me to really underline that. We’re very happy with the set-up. We’ve learned from the Cork game and we’re looking forward to showing what we’ve learned.”
Geaney has more than 10,000 Twitter followers but looks to be growing increasingly wary of social media. In March, he put together another tweet, stating that he’d “love to go back to the days where we kept our opinions to ourselves. Social platforms are toxic.”
None of which solves Kerry’s footballing problems, but Geaney did feel better to have vented.
“I’m 10 years playing with Kerry now and any year without a rumour, well, I don’t know has there been one,” he shrugged.
To compound matters late last year, Geaney, an All-Ireland winner in 2014, didn’t get an opportunity to help Kerry as he was injured for all of their post-lockdown autumn/winter games.
He couldn’t attend the Cork game because he wasn’t part of the panel and ended up watching it in his pub with his father.
The excitement of delivering pints to people who hadn’t seen a draft pint in a while, it was like being Santa on Christmas morning
It was a frustrating experience, mainly because Kerry lost on a damp and miserable day but also because it was just the two of them in an empty pub. Paul Geaney’s Bar and Restaurant should have been wedged with customers but the pandemic has hit him hard.
He reckons he’s been closed for about nine months all in. To keep things ticking over, he’s turned to delivering food and drink in recent weeks.
“I had to kit out an auld van,” he said. “I was driving around the community there the last two or three weeks, delivering pints out of the back of the van, and some food. So we managed to get up and running a small bit. Through that, I was able to meet a couple of people as well. The excitement of delivering pints to people who hadn’t seen a draft pint in a while, it was like being Santa on Christmas morning.”
It’s a nice metaphor, certainly better than the other one he throws out about watching Kerry lose to Cork on the big screen in the empty pub.
“It’s like if you were in George Orwell’s book, 1984 – Room 101, the torture room. I wouldn’t be too quick to look at it again,” he said.
He doesn’t go along with the theory put forward by many commentators, including Kieran Donaghy and Ciarán Whelan, that Kerry paid the price that day at Páirc Uí Chaoimh for being too defensively minded.
“If you do look at it again, you’ll see an awful lot of energy from Kerry players in defensive situations, whether that’s within our 45 or the middle of the field or above,” said Geaney. “I think it’s perception, that maybe comes from commentators. They say, ‘Oh, Kerry have 14 men behind the ball’ and then it goes into the public psyche. Dublin do it too.
“Were we defensive against Mayo or Donegal or Dublin, or Tyrone two years ago in the Championship? We weren’t, or were we? Who is deciding? It was the same management team and pretty much the same players so it’s pretty much the same ideology, I’d say.”