HE might still be regarded as one of the less established 'senior' members of the Kerry team but there is no denying Kieran O'Leary's seniority, maturity and place within this Dr Crokes team. Year on year - and this season, game on game - O'Leary has taken on more and more responsibility within this team.
Maybe it's down to the captaincy, maybe is because of being another year older, wiser, better. Maybe it's just because all around him the team is developing, maturing, getting better.
Certainly, as he emulated Luke Quinn from twelve months ago and accepted the Munster Club Championship trophy on behalf of his team and club, O'Leary saw much to be satisifed with in Sunday's provincial title winning performance from Dr Crokes, who now have an East Kerry championship final and then an AllIreland Club SFC quarterfinal in London to play over the next two weekends.
"First of all we have to focus on Rathmore in the O'Donoghue Cup this Sunday, the following week we are over in London for the quarter-final, and they won't be any pushovers," the team captain said. "I know a couple of lads in London and they said they are a very impressive side. We will be kept on our toes and our feet will be firmly kept
on the ground because we
will have to prepare profes-
sionally for that game
because it will be tough.
"Confidence is high. We came out of Kilmurry by the skin of our teeth. That was a massive, massive battle. Credit to Kilmurry that day, they stopped us playing and we were lucky to come out of it, and even against Clonmel we were up against it but we came out of both those games. That's what it's all about," a delighted O'Leary added.
"We might have won by a few points in the end (against Castlehaven) but it wasn't easy by any means. Castlehaven showed great heart and determination, which we knew they were going to bring to the table. But thankfully we moved the ball at pace today, it was a great surface and we did the business. We tried to concentrate on our starts because for some reason lately we have been starting poorly. The management pinpointed that, credit to them, and it worked for us today.
"Sixteen out of the nineteen points were from play, and to kick that in December was incredible. The movement is only as good as the pass going in, and vice versa. But the Gooch, Chris Brady and Jamie (Doolan), their movement was unreal, and Daithi (Casey) and Johnny (Buckley) were immense too. That point straight from the throw-in just settled us straight away."