THE real business will start now in preparation for the championship.
The Kerry management will be hoping that the domestic club scene doesn't throw up any injuries. Of course, from a League perspective the County Board will be sorry for not making the final as the final would have put some badly needed money in the coffers. The economy of Killarney too will bemoan the fact that we did not survive to do battle with our near neighbours as the likelihood was that the game would have been played in Fitzgerald stadium and would have ensured a reasonable gate.
On that subject, the powers that be in Croke Park will, in my view, have to review the logic in playing some of these games in Croke Park. Poor attendances at headquarters doesn't do anything for the games, even though I do know that team managers will always want to give their teams the experience of playing in Croke Park.
The League overall was hard to gauge, what with club teams involvement in the club championship. Tyrone looked the team on the move in Division Two, with Kildare as the other form team in this division. The north will again be hard to call for the Ulster title but going on the League and Club Championship form, Armagh could be dark horses. This year the Crossmaglen contingent will no doubt add to the Armagh challenge.
In Leinster the poor showing of Meath and their relegation to Division Three plus the upheaval in the county in relation to the manager and County Board can act either way. Meath will either knuckle down on the field and deliver or mount a serious challenge.
Their game against Wicklow in early May will tell us it could be foolish to write off Meath. Dublin had a poor League â?“ that sometimes can happen after winning an All-ireland. Throw Kildare into the mix and that should be the battle ground for the Leinster title.
In Connacht Mayo will be expected to win that title but this provincial title can sometimes throw up surprises. Galway are on a rebuilding curve and Roscommon can blow hot and cold. We will have another look at Mayo against Cork but, in my view, they are improving at the right time of year.
Now we will learn too a little bit more about Cork in the League Final but having some of their better forwards back from last year will surely see them in the mix come next August or September.
Again, I don't see any surprises along the way from Waterford, Tipp or Limerick which leaves us only to look at ourselves. We did well enough in the League, but we did not win it or contest the final â?“ that's the bottom line.
Management, in my view, did find out about a few players on the way and I would say that we will, as in Kerry the tradition, have a team that will contest the later stages of the championship over the years going forward. I have often said that league form is one thing and championship is another.
Everyone looks at the Kerry forward line and there is no doubt about it, but we have a nice bit of talent in that area of the field. The only thing that worries me is that they are all players of similar style: Kieran O'leary, James O'donoghue, Paddy Curtin and Barry John Keane. We will still need the older and more experienced guys to be on top of their game and in the League against Mayo they were not.
My view has not changed in where I would play Donaghy â?“ corner-forward with Declan and Colm Cooper â?“ that's my inside line and if the square ball comes in this championship will be interesting. Maher and Sheehan will do fine at midfield â?“ in fact I would say that Anthony Maher is the most improved midfielder in the country, but our troubles will be in defence.
Shane Enright, Maguire and Crowley are good players but my worry about them is how comfortable they are in certain sides of the field. You can have a very good player who can play excellent on one side of the field but on the other corner or wing he can be totally uncomfortable.
Last week I said I thought we should try and get another year out of Tom O'sullivan â?“ that, of course, is down to Tom and the management. Tomás Ó Sé will be a huge asset. Management have a few things to work with afresh. Eoin Brosnan and Aidan O'mahony too will have parts to play, but they too have examination to make of fellows who are not playing well.
We well be in the mix â?“ of that there is no doubt, but a more direct game plan and the holding of positions will most definitely be required. We are leaving teams dictate where our half-forwards play and this will have to be dealt with.