Carey buoyed by Kerry's Ennis mauling
Published 05/05/2016 | 02:30
One memory stands out for Kerry hurling manager Ciaran Carey as the Kingdom waded through their Division 1B campaign.
They were in Ennis, enduring their heaviest defeat of the year. Carey recognised it for what it was: a lesson on what to expect when swimming with the sharks, and he could only hope his players were paying attention.
But on that occasion they shipped 2-28 and managed just 1-9, something positive caught Carey's eye.
"They gave us a trimming," Carey recalls. "But I was just alongside Jason Diggins and he appeared to hold his own for the whole game and I said 'Isn't that great for a guy who played minor B hurling last year that he can go out and hold his own against Clare?'.
"So that moment stood out for me. If you can do that to Jason . . . we've three or four of the guys who would be that same position as him. If they can improve that bit by bit, the world is their oyster really."
Division 1B and the Leinster Championship. These are heady times for Kingdom hurling, which continues to operate out of a tight corner of north Kerry.
"There was huge, huge benefit (to playing in 1B) and huge merit playing the Munster League game as well," adds Carey.
"That was the start of it. We had a taste of the pace. The big thing really is that they maintain their status in 1B going forward."
Kerry got life in Leinster off to a winner when beating Carlow last weekend. On Saturday, they welcome Westmeath to Tralee. Kerry are warm favourites, having operated in a higher division in the spring, but they will have noticed their visitors' demolition job on Offaly last weekend.
"It was no surprise to me," Carey said. "I've been watching Westmeath, and they'd have to be respected with the three guys the have on the line, with Michael Walsh, Michael Ryan and I think Declan Carr is giving them a hand."
The teams in the round robin find themselves in the bizarre position of facing a stronger team should they top the group. The winners will take on last year's All-Ireland finalists Galway while the second-placed team a Laois side who finished bottom of 1B.
Carey was reluctant to be drawn on it but his displeasure at that arrangement was clear.
"It doesn't appear to make a whole pile of sense," he said. "I'd say it's something that will be looked at in the future."