Monday 27 March 2017

Meyler has Kerry goal in his sights

Kieran McCarthy

JOHN Meyler is confident that the next phase of his Kerry hurling master-plan will come to fruition this evening.

Favourites to lift the Christy Ring Cup with a victory over Wicklow in Croke Park today (2.0), a triumph would signal a continuation of Meyler's overall dream, which is to see Kerry back competing in the Munster senior hurling championship.

So, as prestigious and all as the Christy Ring Cup final is, it is, in many ways, just a means to an end for Meyler and his improving Kerry team.

"That is the ultimate aim over the next two or three years, that Kerry would get into the Munster championship and be competitive," the Wexford native said.

"I said it at the start of the year that it's far more important that Kerry maintained its Division 2 status in the league. We've done that. We won two matches and we lost five. We need to consolidate our position there next year.

"Now what it means on Saturday for the powers-that-be is that, if Kerry win, do we go into the Munster championship or not? That's the major strategic move that would have to be considered."

Describing his Kerry team as a work in progress, Meyler believes that his side can cope with the tag of favourites against Wicklow today and make amends for last year's final defeat to Westmeath.

"I think we have been favourites in all the matches that we have played, but it's what happens on the day," the Kerry boss said.

"We played Wicklow last year in the semi-final and they were desperately unlucky not to come away with something that day. The benefit will always go to the team in Division 2, just as Westmeath were favourites last year.

"That experience from last year should also stand to us. You need to take advantage of that, but it all comes down to what happens on the day. Wicklow have been very consistent over the last three years. We won't underestimate them."

With this current Kerry team a blend of experience and youth -- Kerry have won two All-Ireland U-21 'B' titles and a minor 'B' All-Ireland in the last two years -- Meyler's fingerprints are all over this side.

And reflecting on the wins over Kildare and Down en route to the final, Meyler believes that his team needs to produce a total performance to finally win a first Christy Ring Cup.

"We are trying to put a 70-minute performance together rather than the fits and starts that we have been doing for most of the year. We are looking for a start-to-end performance from everybody," Meyler said.

"We need to play some of the hurling that we played against Down and some of the hurling that we played at different stages of the National League. We want to put it all together on the one day."

And if Meyler and Kerry achieve success today, it will take them one giant step towards their overall goal -- the Munster senior hurling championship

Kerry have injury worries over Aidan Boyle (hand injury) and Mike Conway (hamstring), while Tom Murnane is suspended.

Irish Independent

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