Peter Keane takes issue with criticism of the Kerry defence

League showed formidable firepower of attack with Seán O’Shea and the two Cliffords

Kerry manager Peter Keane: “We went at teams again in 2020, and we are going at teams again in 2021.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry manager Peter Keane: “We went at teams again in 2020, and we are going at teams again in 2021.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Peter Keane has had a long time to repent at leisure Kerry’s championship exit last November. A late sucker punch of a goal by Cork derailed their whole season in the pandemic-enforced knockout Munster football semi-final.

It was also seen as the price paid for experimenting with defensive systems designed to counter a team they would never actually play, All-Ireland champions Dublin.

“There appeared to be a lot of criticism after the game all right,” the Kerry manager said at a media event last week. “There was a feeling that we set out over-defensively. I wouldn’t necessarily go along with that, but you take different approaches to different games and if you look at us in 2019, we went at teams.

“We went at teams again in 2020, and we are going at teams again in 2021. Sometimes you have to mix and match, and you just see how it goes. Tactics change all the time, and might I change the tactics or shake them up for next weekend? We might, we’ll see how it goes.”

A faintly redemptive league in recent weeks ended with Kerry retaining a share of the title they won last year and winning all matches except against Dublin, and even that featured a good recovery to force a draw in injury time.

It culminated in a six-goal thrashing of Tyrone in the divisional semi-final, an exercise in futility as their very qualification for the final doomed it, as a first championship match weekend meant no opportunity for a break in advance of meeting Clare this weekend.

He is asked whether he agrees with the decision not to play the final against Dublin. He does, hardly surprising for someone who has been almost neurotically anxious about potential injury in the league.

“I suppose, look one of the things I highlighted from the start was to be injury free. I am touching wood here because there are two or three training sessions, and you just don’t know. You are flying by the seat of your pants on this one with injuries. That’s something I and other managers are learning.”

The league has showcased the formidable firepower of the team’s attack where Seán O’Shea and David Clifford have been joined by the latter’s brother Paudie, and the payout has been 13 goals in four matches.

If there was a reservation it was they looked familiarly open at the back when Dublin attacked in the fixture in Thurles, scoring four goals. Keane takes issue with criticism of the defence.

Conceding

“I would have to say if you look at our defence we played Galway and conceded 11 scores. We played Dublin and we conceded 13 scores, albeit four of them were goals which is what you don’t want to be conceding, but I think the second half against Dublin we conceded 1-3.

“We played Roscommon and we conceded 1-12, 13 scores, and from the 48th minute on against them we conceded one score, which was a goal. Last weekend was probably the highest at 1-14, which is 15 scores. Obviously you’d love to concede nothing at all, but I’m not sure that happens too often.”

Clare are familiar opponents and they have met seven times in the past eight championships and still Kerry haven’t lost the fixture since the 1992 Munster final. A follow-on question nearly has Keane losing equilibrium.

Should they not be making a statement by walloping Clare?

“If you relate back to last year in Cork when we lost to a late goal and you’re asking me whether we should be massacring another team. We’ve one game coming up and that’s what it’s all about – getting over that. One, two or three points, we’ll be delighted and take that. The priority is to get over that game.”

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