Wednesday 22 March 2017

'They'll say we got easy route but we can't control that' - Kerry's Killian Young

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kerry’s Killlian Young is ready to face Dublin. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kerry’s Killlian Young is ready to face Dublin. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Since the championship draws were made last winter, the football fraternity expected this weekend's fixture would come.

The Munster champions were down to face the Leinster kingpins at the All-Ireland semi-final stage. Surely Kerry and Dublin, we thought.

Kerry’s Killlian Young slipping at the wrong time in last September’s All-Ireland final. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile
Kerry’s Killlian Young slipping at the wrong time in last September’s All-Ireland final. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile

And so it has come to pass. And this Sunday we'll get another instalment of football's biggest fixture.

It's a rivalry that has swung dramatically in Dublin's favour of late. Since Stephen Cluxton tipped the scale Dublin's way in the 2011 All-Ireland final, they have beaten the Kingdom in the championship in three consecutive matches.

It's a remarkable run considering that Dublin beat Kerry just twice in championship from 1934 to 2011.

In the league final this year too, Dublin won with a bit to spare after Kerry were reduced to 14 men. Last year's All-Ireland final was similar.

Donnchadh Walsh of Kerry scores his side's first goal during the All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Clare and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Walsh of Kerry scores his side's first goal during the All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Clare and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Killian Young slipped at a crucial moment when the goal opened up but it even had he goaled, it would have been an unlikely smash and grab. Kerry won't say it but they badly need to redress the balance of power between the counties.

How good preparation has been for the Kingdom remains to be seen. Championship wins over Clare (twice) and Tipperary to reach the last four means they haven't played a Division 1 team, or even a team from outside their own province, so far in the championship.

However, Young isn't too worried about the path his side have taken.

"The main thing (against Clare in the quarter-final) was to get the result," he said. "Beyond that of course we could have played with a bit more flair maybe on the day.

"There were a few unforced errors and was probably a bit sloppy at times. It was a game that we had the result in the bag and it was just a matter of getting through it.

"There are aspects we are going to need to improve on. I suppose we were fortunate that for the unforced errors we did make on the day that we weren't punished for them."

Young's response as to whether his side are adequately battle-hardened from their route to the decider is suitably political. However, he did admit that they would rely heavily on their internal games in the build-up to Sunday's clash.

"We prepared like we would for any team - you have to be professional and cold. I suppose that's why we never really struggled against those teams where if you weren't 100pc right on the day or mentally at it you could be really caught out.

"We got through it and the biggest test for us now is going to be internally in relation to training. We have a couple of young fellas, we have eight U-21s after coming through, there is a real freshness in the squad. There is a great bite in training."

However, Young admits that bridging the four-week gap between the Clare game and Sunday's clash will be a challenge for a Kerry team that have lost plenty of experience in recent seasons.

"There are actually a lot of players there in the squad that are not experienced as well. It is certainly something we'll be looking to build on now. There is a lot of talk out there at the moment in relation to the structure of the competition with some people saying, 'Kerry got the easy route in', but that's stuff that we can't control."

The Kingdom head into their fourth championship game of the summer this weekend. Win and it will extend to a maximum of five barring a replay. And Young wants any new championship structure to include more games for players. "The reason that we play the game is because we love it. We love playing for our county and that's where the pride comes into it. The ratio for training over my time with Kerry, the ratio over how many times I trained versus games is frightening.

"You need to have a certain amount of training but it is all about games. That's the joy of it, that's where you get the buzz. It is definitely something that will have to be looked at."

"I suppose even the attendances for the league games have been a lot more, it's been a lot more exciting even for myself. We play our games in Division 1 and you're definitely watching the other teams around you, they're definitely more competitive and they've been very hard games to call. You'd find a lot more neutrals going to those games.

"So you'd be hoping some (change) was going to happen but I don't know if it's going to happen in my time anyway."

Irish Independent

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