Wednesday 28 September 2016

Savage puts his faith in 'Jack' factor

Michael Verney

Published 07/04/2016 | 02:30

Kerry's Jack Savage. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Kerry's Jack Savage. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

To say that Kerry's U-21 footballers owe Cork a beating would be a giant understatement.

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The Rebels have ruled the Kingdom with an iron fist, ending their Munster aspirations for the past five years, and if familiarity breeds contempt, then Kerry folk must be sick of the sight of their bitter rivals.

They renew their annual acquaintance tonight in Tralee in the Munster final but signs suggest the new year has brought a new confidence. Kerry's defeat of reigning provincial champions Tipperary was their first U-21 win in four years; 2016 is different.

Playing with 14 men for more than half the game, they displayed all the hallmarks of their success-laden manager Jack O'Connor to grind out a victory. Having taken the reins from Darragh Ó Sé after overseeing back-to-back All-Ireland minor wins, O'Connor has instilled belief that the old enemy can finally be conquered.

If the attitude of captain Jack Savage is anything to go by, this crop of youngsters believe O'Connor has the key to unlocking the Rebel puzzle and claiming their first U-21 crown since 2008, a famine in Kerry.

"His experience and the confidence he instils in all the players is massive and the faith we have in him and the faith he has in us works hand in hand. The management set-up is great compared to the last few years," said Savage.

"Even the backroom team have won at minor, U-21 and senior and club; they've all won something so there's a good winning habit there. The last few years we haven't got over Cork and I think psychologically Jack is the man to focus us on Cork and help us get over them."

The lethal Kerins O'Rahillys forward believes they can banish the Rebel hoodoo and prevail. "We owe Cork one," he added.

Irish Independent

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