"I'm not optimistic. I'm determined." – John Meyler JOHN Meyler is no idle dreamer. This is a man who deals in realism. His Kerry team have played one game. It was a good one for his charges to be sure, but it was just that – one game. His focus is on the next training session. The next game.
After seeing what he saw the previous day the wisdom of this approach should be clear for all to see. The new Kerry manager's son you see got only his second Premier League start last Saturday. Meyler was in the stands to watch David's Sunderland take on the might of Chelsea in Stamford Bridge.
Just in case you didn't see the game, or even the goals on the news, Sunderland were pretty much slaughtered by Carlo Ancelotti's side – 7-2 the final score. If ever there was an occasion to forget about the result, move and focus on the next traning session or the next game then this was it.
Kerry's performance against the University of Limerick wasn't anything like Sunderland's against Chelsea, but the same principle applies. It was good yes, but there's work to be done. The past is a foreign country, it's time to focus on the future.
The last few weeks haven't been ideal, indoor training sessions are no substitute for proper training and proper hurling.
With five weeks to go to their league opener against Derry Meyler has a definte idea of what needs to be done to get his charges ready for the battles ahead. "We've a few challenge games lined up. Joe O'Connor is doing the physical training and they're delighted with him and I'm delighted with him," he confirms.
Meyler has also completed his management team. In doing so he's looked to both the past and the future. He has brought in one of his former soldiers from his first tenure as Kerry boss – Dr Crokes' Seanie O'Shea. He did so not only because of his knowledge of hurling, but because of his success on the football field. "I've got Seanie Shea in now and he's a clean breath of fresh air. He has a lot of experience with Dr Crokes in terms of football and in terms of winning All Irelands – he knows what it takes. It's important for that point of view, you need fellas who can read a game and as I said to him and to Hennessy I want them to be selectors. Nothing else. That's their job," the Wexford man stated.
Kerry's performance, running the Fitzgibbon Cup favourites close, closer than most people suspected they would, delighted him. It wasn't just the fact that they came so close, so late in the game that pleased him, it was the attitude and the willingness to graft that really caught his eye. "What I asked them for before Christmas was that if I could get the commitment and the attitude and that's what we got out of them today.
"I demanded that response from them. There's no point arseing around expecting fellas to turn up. What we have we have. We gave Colm Harty twenty minutes there. He was only a minor last year. Shane Nolan was only a minor last year. David Fitzelle and Richard Nolan, Darragh O'Connell and John Brendan in goal, that's where we're going. If they're not in they're not in and there's nothing I can do about it.
"I told them when I met them last September or whenever it was that I'm looking for attitude and commitment and I got that. I bring on young Harty and he sets up a great point with Shane Brick and you bring on Richard Nolan and David Fitzelle – those guys want to be here, they are here and if they are here they're staying here. I'm not throwing them out for anybody," he revealed.
The blending of youth and experience into a coherent collective is Meyler's immediate goal. "We had four or five young fellas there today – David Fitzelle, Shane Nolan guys like this and they've got to learn from that and use that for the next day. If we keep going with those young fellas – marry Darragh O'Connell, Colm Harty and those guys with Shane Brick, Liam Boyle and Tom Murnane that's what I'm trying to do," he noted.
One name on the Kerry teamsheet that aroused quite a bit of interest was that of Turlough Bonnar. Listed on the programme as a member of the Cashel King Cormacs club what was this young man doing on the Kerry hurling panel? "He's Cormac Bonnar's [former Tipperary All Ireland winner and currently principal Miltown Secondary School] son. He was involved with Bishopstown and he came into training the last night. He wants to play, he's eligable to play with Kerry and I say come in and train and we'll have a look at you," Meyler explained.