Cool, calm and collected Keane looks forward

Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Damian Stack

Peter Keane is what in certain parts of the Kingdom they might describe as a fine cool man.

He made his way into the auditorium under the Hogan Stand after the match cool as you like. After what we'd just witnessed we - the denizens of the fourth estate - were all left half frazzled, trying and struggling to wrap our heads around what exactly had just happened.

Keane though just took it all in his stride, like managing a Kerry team in an epic All Ireland final was just another day at the office, which of course in a way it is, it has to be otherwise you couldn't do the job.

Still to be that composed, that cool, calm and collected so close to the final whistle is impressive. About a quarter of an hour beforehand Keane was watching on helpless like the rest of us as Dean Rock stepped up to take that free and, now, here was calmly and even-handedly assessing the situation.

"I suppose you're right we could have won it, could have lost it. I suppose Dublin will probably feel the same. Look it's like any other draw you take it and go away and prepare for the next day," he said.

"I wouldn't say it's an opportunity missed. At the end of the day we weren't in an All Ireland final since 2015, we've a young team, what were they going to get only experience out of the game, so there's a learning curve and I said all year we're on a crash course with a learning curve and you know this is only helping it.

"At the end of the day they've won four All Irelands on the bounce. Were they going for seven in the last nine years today? Was it? Am I right in that? They didn't get those All Irelands in a lucky bag so they're a serious team.

"We'll go away and a have a cut at it again."

The sense that this might have been the one that got away was a persistent one from Keane's interlocutors on Sunday afternoon. A look at Kerry's conversion rate - just 43% from play - prompted a question. Keane, though, played a straight bat.

"If you're looking at the glass half empty you could think like that, but we're not looking at the glass half empty," he said.

"If you're creating chances another one will come and keep rattling away and something will come out of it. In that first half we probably had three or four goal chances in the first half, look they didn't come off, but we were around there anyway."

Tactically Keane got a lot right on Sunday afternoon. The decision to start Jack Barry at midfield was inspired and he did much to negate Brian Fenton along with David Moran (who seemed on occasion to match up directly with his opposite number at kick-out time).

The use of the bench was really impressive. All the players who came off the bench impacted the game in some way and, when you compare it to how late Jim Gavin left it to make changes, the timing of the switches worked a charm.

"I think we got a good bounce out of our subs today and Tommy [Walsh] was one of those guys and you know what did he do? He had two shots, scored one, missed one and set up another one so he'd a good day yeah," Keane commented.

The level of Kerry's performance seemed to catch a lot of observers off guard, but Keane was always confident in his side.

"Did we think we had a chance coming here today? Of course. If you've two dogs in any race, one dog might get a heart attack and the other one walk home. You've a chance every time they're out there," he said.

"Some guys think about this, using motivation, but at the end of the day, you're a Kerry team, you're a Kerry player, you're kicking ball against a gable wall since you were knee-high, you want to play in a day like this don't you?

"You feel you're born for this to get up to Croke Park like I said. We hadn't been here since 2015, you want to be here on these days and sure look we'll get the second bite at it. It'd be an awful lot worse to be coming out of here having lost wouldn't it?"