Keane not interested in managing expectations
Paul Brennan got the thoughts of Kerry manager Peter Keane as he came off the Breffni Park pitch after Kerry’s second League win in a row
True to his word Peter Keane isn't getting too excited about the good early results in the League. Certainly there were pleasant handshakes and smiles all round between him and his management team and players on the edge of Breffni Park last Sunday as Kerry made it two wins from two, but you believe Keane when he says winning these games isn't the be all and end all right now.
Keane is sticking to the line that he is still in the getting-to-know-you period with the players and still trying to lay the small and simple but important flagstones omn which bigger things will be built.
As pleasing for the supporters as the wins over Tyrone and Cavan have been, the thoughts this week are very much focussed ahead to Saturday evening and the visit of Dublin to Tralee, and the majority of the sell-out crowd of over 12,000 will come with plenty of expectation that Kerry can make it a hat trick of wins under Keane and inflict at least a little discomfort on the League and All-Ireland champions.
Keane, understandably, isn't too bothered about the hype and hope that will build this week to a crescendo on Saturday evening, and is rather more concerned with assembling a panel that can be competitive at the weekend.
"I don't see managing (the public's) expectations anywhere in my brief," he said after the Cavan game, "but at the end of the day my biggest concern is heading home and finding out in the next couple of days and maybe even as late as Wednesday night where we're at with players. I said this last week in Killarney as well, winning and losing, it's always better to win of course, but winning or losing wasn't going to be a priority. The thing is to try and find some scratch of a team. Even this week we were on the road, travelled up (Saturday) and it's just getting used to each other and getting a handle on each other. Likewise the players getting a handle on us as a management and seeing where we're at."
Asked if the recent wins will give the Kerry players some positive momentum going into Saturday's match Keane said: "I wouldn't call it momentum because at this stage you're trying to put a team together and there's fellas coming and fellas going. Even mid-week last week we lost Gavin Crowley (to injury) in a Sigerson Cup game. Dara Moynihan had played in that game that's why we didn't start him today. UCC are out this week so there's a lot of football being played.
It's bad enough that we've to play three games in thirteen days but throwing in Sigerson Cup games as well it's a hugely demanding period. And you take the physicality of the game there today and the physicallity of the game last week against Tyrone and it's hugely demanding. So I wouldn't get hugely worked up about momentum, I'd be getting more worked up about trying to get bodies on the field at this stage.
"The key for me has been to try and create some bit of a structure, some semblance of a team and try to get rolling that way. Bit by bit we're getting a few back but no sooner do you get one or two back but you lose or two again."
Reflecting on the game in Cavan Keane was unimpressed with his team's performance in the first half but was pleased to see a positive change after the interval.
"The first half I thought our workrate was very poor. We managed at half time rectify that. We were down at half time eleven (points) to seven, lost the first half by four points, but we turned it around in the second half to win it by nine (points) to two. Now that wind was a factor, it was definitely a factor although you mightn't have noticed it as much here (in the tunnel area). So Cavan in the first half and us in the second did have an advantage with that wind.
"I don't think we necessarily set up (in the first half) to be defensive but that's just the way it happened, we were under a bit of pressure and we just had to tidy it up and get it sorted at half time.
"(Half time substitutes) Dara Moynihan worked hard, Tommy (Walsh) worked hard, but there was a change of attitude, a change of mind-set and fellas started working that weren't working before that," he said, while acknowledging that Kerry's best period was when they went down to 14 players with Tom O'Sullivan in the sin-bin.
"I'm not sure where we are at with conditioning, if that was a reason for it. Maybe we were just tidy on the ball in that period and maybe we had a bit of momentum in the game at that stage. Probably at that moment in time we had a bit of momentum, even though we were still a point down, twelve to eleven at that stage."