Having lost their manager of the last three years, John Meyler, after he walked away from the senior job at the end of the seniors' Christy Ring Cup campaign, the pressure was always going to be on the Kingdom to do the business four the fourth season in succession.
ALL IRELAND UNDER 21 B HC SEMI-FINAL Kerry 1-12 Kildare 5-17 THE four in-a-row just wasn't to be.
Nevertheless they had some very dedicated and talented hurling men over them for this championship with John Hennessy, Seanie O'Shea and Christy Walsh taking over the reins from the Wexford man.
They came into this game cold. It told. They coughed up five goals to a Kildare side, which had played a game against Mayo in All Ireland competition already. Kerry's immediate preparations consisted of senior county championship fixtures and while there was plenty of collective training done there's a world of difference between that and a competitive fixture (even if it must be noted that Kildare's game with Mayo was of the walk-over variety).
Gerry Keegan proved to be the torn in Kerry's side and had two goals inside the opening ten minutes. A deficit that Kerry were never to recover from, try as they might and they did try. Shane Nolan with 1-5, 1-2 from play, certainly could leave the pitch with his head held high. His scores kept Kerry in it up to halftime when they trailed 2-7 to 1-6. The second half was all about Kildare, however, as Kerry had no match for their intensity despite the sending off of Kildare wingback Shane O'Flynn for a second bookable offence.
Kerry selector John Hennessy, who had been involved in the set up for the previous three campaigns, was obviously disappointed by the defeat.
"We were completely off the pace altogether," was his honest assessment.
"When we looked at this team, there was ten of our first team missing last Saturday. We'd six Under 21s and four minors that we were looking at. We were completely off the pace. Kildare had just played the Dublin minors in a challenge match and we couldn't even get a challenge match, because of the way the championship has been run this year. We're just awful disappointed."
Hennessy was particularly disappointed to lose the four minor players for the game.
"We started off with six down last week and then all of a sudden we were told that the four minors we were thinking of bringing in couldn't play because of the championship that was played.
"In saying that now we met an excellent team. You could see that they were together for the last three months. You can see how they could come back from eight points down against Westmeath. Our full-back line were caught in the first ten minutes, but in fairness to them they were pounded all day.
"Your man, Kieran Fitzgibbon, was unbelievable for us in goals. Great saves. There's no way he deserved to have had five goals go past him." KERRY: Kieran Fitzgibbon; Stephen Leen, Jason Bowler, Kevin Orpen; JP O'Mahony, Anthony Fealy, Anthony Carroll; Brendan Brosnan (0-3, 1f, 1 '65), Muiris Delaney (0-1), Colm Harty, Shane Dowling, Sean Weir; Shane Nolan (1-5, 3f), Conor Fitzell (capt), PJ Connolly (0-3) Subs: Owen Kelly for O'Mahony (25), Kevin Conner for Fitzell (52), Patrick O'Keeffe for Delaney (52), Sean Godley for Connolly (55) KILDARE: P McKenna; R McGrath, M Carter, D MacDonncha; S O'Flynn, M Purcell (capt), K Whelan; L McDonagh, M Fitzgerald (0-3), P Cocoman, C Kenny (0-2, 1 '65), R Kelly; C Ó Hehir (0-6, 4f), G Keegan (3-2), S Gainey Subs: M Delaney (1-3) for Gainey (18), D Flaherty for Ó Hehir (49), R Bergin for Keegan (58), F Conway (0-1)for Kenny (58), F Lohan (1-0) for Cocoman (58) REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)