Big challenge just what Kingdom require says manager O'Sullivan

Donal Barry

HAVING languished in Division 2 for the last three seasons William O'Sullivan is looking forward to this season with real excitement.

"To be honest it's what we need: a better quality of team every week. It'll test the strength of the panel," he says.

And testing the panel seems to be the mantra for 2014 as he is already looking ahead to Kerry's two away games, which are arguably the two hardest tests for Kerry.

"The two away games against Monaghan and Dublin will be tough, but they're great challenges. It makes a big difference from other years where we were travelling to games we knew we were going to win.

"It is an opportunity for us to try new players and see how they cope against top teams. I am conscious of the fact that Dublin are viewed as challengers for the Brendan Martin Cup. The fact that Gregory McGonigle is in charge of them gives them a higher profile this year."

However, O'Sullivan is not reading anything into the previous result, in which a 27-point hammering saw the departure of the previous team management.

"The previous league result is history," he says matter of factly.

Having spent the last three years with more away trips than home at last the fixture calendar has been kind and Kerry have no less than five of their games at home.

"It's important for the profile of ladies football in the county to make use of these games. The more people at the matches the better."

With the exception of Mags O'Donoghue who has retired the panel is very much the same from last season.

"Mags has retired. Lorraine Scanlon is back in this year as are Mairead Finnegan and Debra Murphy. Aisling Leonard is due back in March. Laura Rogers will hopefully be back for the championship. Overall, we should be stronger this season," he says.

O'Sullivan still sees other added benefits to being back in the top flight.

"The team has a higher profile now than it had four years ago, that's for sure. I still think that others don't see us as realistic contenders for major trophies and that has a lot to do with our absence from Division 1 for a few years."

However, dreams of winning the title in his first season back are a little way off just yet.

"We'd like to be in the semi-finals of course, but the big focus will be using the better opposition to improve every player."

Something that has been repeated in the past and maybe that is why Kerry have slowly improved over the last three seasons.

However, the tests that O'Sullivan has faced in the past in the league will be nothing to what he has to face this season. It all begins with Tyrone on February 2 in Fitzgerald Stadium. A win and there off and running a defeat and all of a sudden the pressure is on.