Keane: game was a great advertisement for football
Jimmy Keane endured a few anxious moments in this latest nail-biting contest with Cork in the Munster Junior Championship but the Kerry manager was delighted that his new and young team stood up to the challenge and retained the title for the Kingdom.
Despite a missed penalty in the second half Keane felt Kerry were playing well and creating chances, but he had special praise for the defence, which worked hard throughout and particularly at the end when Cork were hunting a much needed goal.
"If you look back at the last three years I've been involved we beat (Cork) by a point two years ago, last year was an epic battle above in Cork and today was a fantastic advertisement for football. Football as it should be played, great scores, high fielding. Fair enough, there were a few misses in it but it's junior football at the end of the day, but there's credit due to both sides," Keane said. "Cork are the yardstick every year that we measure ourselves by and we're only barely getting over Cork every year, but we seem to drive on from there. Only for us Cork would have won the last three or four All-Irelands as well.
"In the end it was probably our big players that came up and stood up to the mark around the middle of the field. Ronan (Murphy) and Kieran (Murphy) started winning ball, and our substitutions worked as well, I think, they seemed to turn the tide a bit in our favour. Our goalkeeper made some vital saves as well, so it was a combination of things really.
"(The missed penalty) was probably at a time when we were a bit dominant really. Fair enough we missed a penalty but we were up again fairly soon after with an attack and got a score off it, so we felt we were fairly well on top. The penalty wasn't just an isolated chance, we looked at it as there was going to be more chances in the game and we could take the next one that came our way.
"We were constantly creating chances, and fair enough you never want to miss a penalty but we knew the way we were playing we were creating chances."
Wing forward Evan Cronin kicked five points from play and the manager was delighted for a player who narrowly missed out on making the team in 2017.
"Evan was outstanding. He is playing outstanding stuff for his club, Spa, but today we asked him to do a role where in the first half he was back blocking a goal-bound effort. He's up and down the pitch, he's full of energy and he can take a score too when the opportunity comes his way. I'm delighted for him. He didn't make the cut last year but it just shows that perseverance for a player like Evan who didn't make it last year comes along and play a fantastic game for us.
"They're all young fellas but that experience will stand to them. For some of them it might have been their first time in a Kerry jersey but that will stand to them. There's big futures for these lads.
"Last year Cork had a few forwards that really stood out for them and we felt that our full back line was going to be under a lot of pressure today with their full forward line. But in actual fact two of their three full forward line were taken off and our lads were outstanding in the full back line. They were brilliant and showed great resilience in staying with their man and overlapping with each other when they had to."