Crowley chases Kerry 'validation' of second All-Ireland win
Not long ago, Peter Crowley looked around the Kerry dressing room and it struck him he was amongst its most senior members.
He nudged Shane Enright and they quickly worked out that the Tarbert man was the eldest player togging out with Crowley next on the list. In that moment, his new place in the world, and the responsibility that comes with it, was clearly outlined to him.
"I came in when I was 20 and I got a good year and a half to learn before I ever had to play a game," Crowley recalled. "There's training and stuff like that so you're taught the right way to play. You take those lessons as you go along and learn from different fellas like Marc (Ó Sé), Aidan (O'Mahony), and Tomás (Ó Sé) in the backs particularly. Those were the fellas that taught me things to do.
"And you do realise when you get older that the jersey is bigger than yourself and you need to be teaching these fellas what it means, what the Kerry jersey means and what you have to do to represent it properly.
"I know the last day myself and Enright were looking around the dressing room and said, 'Jeez, it's very young' and we'd another look around and then it turned out he was the oldest in the dressing room and I wasn't too far behind. So when you get to these situations you kind of start to realise."
As if to press home the idea that Crowley is now a senior man, manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice had made him stand-in captain. He'll lead the Kingdom in their opening league game away to Donegal on Sunday. And it's a role he'll hold until county champions Dr Crokes put forward their nomination after their run in the club championship. "It's only temporary. But it's a great honour in the meantime while the Crokes boys are deciding after, hopefully, March 18. And they'll have decided it then. I'm just happy to lead it out until then."
Kerry start this campaign in better shape than last year with the treatment tables at training a lot less busy than they were 12 months ago. They are set for a strong league campaign but Crowley isn't hiding from what his side's real goal is this year.
"I think basically you need to win multiple All-Irelands to validate yourself and put yourself where you want to be in the history of Kerry. One All Ireland, while we were obviously delighted to get it and it's a huge honour, you want more. It's the nature of the beast, it's the nature of being a sportsperson, you need to keep going, you need to keep winning. So the pressure we put on ourselves is huge, we just need to win more."