Age-change brings new challenges for Kingdom boss Keane

Kerry manager Peter Keane.
Kerry manager Peter Keane.

Jason O'Connor

Given that managerial appointments at inter-county level generally follow a two year cycle, Peter Keane and the minor management team's re-appointment last winter indicates that we are very much in a familiar if somewhat fresh cycle with the double All-Ireland winning set-up from 2016 and 2017 getting another two year term.

The changes to minor level itself creates a change of scenery as much as any Kerry managerial appointment, but the Cahersiveen native agrees that it is a blank canvas from his previous term in charge in terms of playing personnel.

"In 2016 we were introducing fellas with an eye to being a part of the 2017 set-up so that those players and we as a management team would know what to expect from each other in terms of what was required at this level.

"The Under 17 change means we could not have such a policy last year for this year as we went with players exclusively in the Under 17 bracket for that side (Under 17) as they would be missing Minor for this year," Keane said of the formation of this year's panel.

Having also been involved in the Under 17 side that reached the All-Ireland semi-final of that once-off event last year, Keane agrees it was a good learning experience for learning about what it will be like to manage Under 17 players from here on out.

Exams and Post-Primary Games are two issues Minor managements have traditionally had to deal with during time over Under 18 set-ups. The Under 17 change has made it less relevant, but Keane feels they are issues that could change with different factors each year.

"As it stands we have no players sitting exams whereas the Under 16½ grade in Post-Primary is not totally compatible to Minor level now because of the six month gap between the ages so it is harder to read into schools games now," he said of the changes.

One thing that is still the same is the format and while Keane's total focus is on Tipperary for the moment he did say there is no thought on the Kingdom trying to avoid another possible 'all-or-nothing' meeting with Cork with their approach to tonight's game.

"We're fully intending to go up to Thurles and try to win. I can't speak for what other motivations other counties might have but we would be very disappointed if we had to go through the 'back door' route. The format is what it is.

"The Round Robin for the Munster Minor Hurling is so it can replicate the change of format to the Munster Senior Hurling Championship and the matches can act as curtain-raisers.

"Traditionally minor football has not been a curtain-raiser for senior football in Munster until the final anyway," Keane pointed out.

One experience Keane intends to draw on from 2016 is the picking of the team captain which the Minor management now have a say in with special preference to an East Kerry player for this year only as last year's County Minor Champions.

"Two years ago we had the situation where Dingle had no representative on the team despite winning the County Minor title in 2015. Their preference after that was for it to be a West Kerry player, but when we had no one from there either they left it up to us and that is how we went with Seán O'Shea in 2016.

"We will probably go 'game-by-game' in our decision, but it's not something we want to be very overbearing for whoever is chosen," Keane said prior to the captain being announced.

Recent success will make Kerry favourites for tonight in advance of any ball being kicked in anger but Keane warns that a night like tonight can see the occasion be a bigger danger than the opposition themselves.

"This is the first time these guys will put on a Kerry jersey at this level and you just don't know how they will react until you see them in the heat of battle. Regardless of whether you are playing at home or away the premise is still the same. You must have the preparation done and you must perform if you are going to win in the end."

Timely thoughts as Kerry return to the venue of one of the biggest shocks seen at this level back in 2011 with Kerry's defeat to the eventual All-Ireland Champions in the Munster semi-final.