"This is Kerry. They always expect success"
Published 15/05/2013 | 05:36
Diarmuid Murphy is well accustomed to the rigours of press days and the former Kerry goalkeeper is at ease at the Munster GAA Council's launch of their provincial championships in Mallow on Monday. Murphy was an unmissable yet unassuming presence in the Kerry goalmouth through the great years of the Noughties, and as when he wore the gloves, the Dingle man fields questions and lays off answers with the same coolness and confidence.
This familiarity and confidence garnered over the years means that he can answer emphatically the question of whether his brethren in Kerry expect success this year. "Yes. This is Kerry. They always expect success."
While the matter of expectations was put to bed easily enough, the league campaign just finished could not be dismissed in so few words.
"It was far from ideal, we all know that. We started slow in the league, we were missing a few of our key players at the early stages and that probably had an impact on things, so we put a lot of our younger players in at the deep end and a lot of them came through very well. As a whole we probably were not getting the results or the performances from the team but we were getting good performances from some of our younger players and that was really encouraging and I think in the long run that will really stand to us. A lot of those younger players that we used are now pushing for places on the panel and even on the team, which is all you can really ask for from those players at this stage."
While there were plenty of positives from the campaign, Murphy showed that relief was also a dominant emotion at the finish. Despite falling over the line in Omagh to get the necessary win against Tyrone, Murphy, his fellow selectors and the players still had to crowd around the radio to hear the result from Ballybofey and learn of their fate. A late, late Dublin equaliser consigned Donegal to division two football next season. Kerry survived. Barely, but they survived.
"There is no two ways about it, it would not have been good to be relegated from division one. We managed to stay at the top table when things were really against us and we brought through lots of new talent so I suppose the league campaign was a kind of qualified success," Murphy ventures.
With the league campaign now but a distant, difficult memory, attention has shifted to the important matter of a Championship opener against Tipperary in less than two weeks. While Kerry go into this campaign with the usual levels of local expectation on their backs they don't seem to have similar expectation levels from outside the county, and while Murphy agrees that this is the case he also feels that this is irrelevant to all wearing the green and gold.
"For players, I don't think that makes any difference really. Players don't tend to look at that sort of thing because in Kerry there is always going to be a certain level of expectation and it is our job to reach that, and while it may not always be possible we must always make sure that we try.
"Our players are putting their heads down and getting stuck into training. Whether we are national favourites or not isn't really important to us, what happens on May 26 against Tipperary is what is important to us."
While the players may be focused solely on the Tipp challenge ahead, the management team have a few injuries to tax their minds and at this stage they are not able to rule anybody in or out with any level of certainty.
"David (Moran) had an operation on his eye yesterday (Sunday) and it will be a week before we know how that went but hopefully he will be back in the not too distant future."
While the news on Moran may be a little pessimistic for the championship opener Murphy seemed a little more upbeat about two other potential worries with both Jonathan Lyne and Eoin Brosnan back in training.
"Both are back training but at this stage" stated Murphy "but it is hard to tell, I wouldn't like to rule either out as I want to give them every chance so we will really just have to wait and see. Call it fifty-fifty on both."
While Murphy and his team may be confident going into their opener against the Premier county he was not prepared to entertain thoughts of their potential Munster semi-final, which would be only six days later if they manage to see of Tipperary.
"We most certainly haven't looked past Tipperary. What happens after that game we will deal with after that game. Tipperary will be a tough test for us, we need to focus one hundred percent on that game and not get side-tracked by what may happen afterwards."
The quest for yet more silverware will begin in Killarney in front of Kerry's expectant fans on May 26 and all involved in the home side's camp will be hoping that "yes" is still the word from the adoring public.