Tuesday 28 February 2017

Billy Keane: We can't rely on 'Wet Knickers Scale' downpour to rain on Dubs' parade

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan and fiance Kiera Doyle. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan and fiance Kiera Doyle. Photo: Sportsfile

The worst thing is we're not sure what would have happened if the day stayed dry. We would have been absolutely certain then that Dublin were better. But the rain was wet.

The reference used by one lady to calibrate the extent of the downpour was the Wet Knickers Scale, which is an accurate gauge of the weather on the lines of the Richter Scale and the Beaufort Scale.

If the rain goes through clothes and coats to wet the knickers, well then you know it's bad day, and it's a very bad day if enough of the rain water can be squeezed out of the briefs to fill up a tea pot. That's five and the max.

Players aquaplaned on the plastic pitch on All-Ireland final day, and the winners were defenders.

One of our most noted and objective sports scribes wrote: "Michaelangelo wouldn't have painted the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel if the stepladder was kicked from under him."

I think it might have been myself. And it was about Bernard and The Gooch. I think it's high time Bernard Brogan became known only as Bernard, like Henry, and his older brother shall henceforth be known only as Alan.

The two former Footballers of the Year, their excellent brother Paul and Jonathan Sexton were honoured at a function in Dublin last night. The night out was organised by Ger O'Keefe and his team in aid of the new Kerry training fields.

Marie Keane-Stack (the Brogans' mother) and Jerry Sexton (Jonathan's father) hail from our street and their Kerry ancestral homes are separated by as much as three houses.

I couldn't make the night out, which was a celebration of the friendships between Kerry and Dublin. Yes we do love the Dubs and they love us, and no blame to them for that.

It's the end of January and tonight the lights of the new season will be switched on in Croke Park for Dublin v Kerry. You'd wonder, though, if it's a bit too soon for football.

It's not even February yet and today is Biddy's Eve, the day before St Brigid's Day when custom was that the Biddy Boys would go out gallivanting like Wren Boys.

Croke Park will host a huge crowd. Not bad for a time of the year when the Wet Knickers Scale can be extended to the filling of milk pales, especially as many of the ladies present will be wearing the old reliable winter warmer double-gusset passion killers, elasticated below the knee and very much fit for purpose. Plenty of soakage there.

Kerry were well beaten in September. Dublin were far better, but it's not all bad news. We have been very busy catering for the Dubs who have been coming to Kerry in their hundreds of thousands to review the events of the All-Ireland in the land of the vanquished.

It's hard going when you're behind the bar counter serving porter. For just ten cents over four euro you are held captive. But most of the Dubs are good humoured and funny about it all. Some have even taken up the old Mick O'Dwyer approach of telling the defeated they played great and the better team lost. This takes the pain away from the defeated, and without pain you have no fight.

Our tongues are as raw as sandpaper from the licking of wounds. We had no excuses. Well maybe there was one or two, such as the failure by all of the officials to spot a certain penalty and a hand to eye offence.

It pains me to say this, but Dublin would have won more easily if the weather was fine. They were hungrier, fitter, faster, more powerful and the Dubs are excellent footballers.

Kerry, like almost every All-Ireland winning county, fell a small bit in love with themselves after winning the previous year's Sam Maguire.

The bringing of the cup to Listowel was a disaster. It was a Wet Knickers 2 night and thousands waited for the team but only two players showed up. Thank you Barry John Keane and Shane Enright.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice was there and signed all the autographs. He is a decent man and like every Kerry manager who has lost an All-Ireland he is under pressure, for such is life here in the Kingdom where security of tenure seldom extends beyond a couple of years. But I like Eamonn as a person. His players respect him, but I think they didn't realise the savagery of heart and mind needed to beat Dublin. We should have brought on Tommy Walsh.

So tonight is 'only the League.' I know Kerry will be fitter, for a change. Our local championships only finished a few weeks ago and there will be a residue of fitness remaining.

It is also a fact that All-Ireland champions tend to winter well and the League isn't as important when Sam is in the vault.

The Allianz League and matches like tonight are important in that the game might throw up a new player for the Championship.

From a Kerry point of view, the more often we play Dublin the better. It's all about getting used to the way they play. All-Ireland winners seldom change the winning format for the follow-on season.

Down beat Kerry in a challenge in Listowel back in 1960 and that was the day they won their first All-Ireland. Down knew they were good enough and brought that knowledge and confidence to Croke Park in the autumn.

I know the Kerry boys are hurting. They have learned so much from last year's defeat and so too have our management team. We need to play the game on our terms and set the agenda early on. We have the skills and we have the players.

Kerry are not as far behind Dublin as some might think. Improvement is needed but we are famous for figuring out the location and formula of the missing ingredient.

Irish Independent

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