Management seek further improvement
NEARLY three weeks on from their All-Ireland Quarter-Final victory over Kildare, Jack O'Connor is still of the belief that it was a performance upon which further improvement would be needed before the Kerry minors venture to Croke Park.
"Looking back at the match on video afterwards showed us that we didn't flow the way we wanted to on the day. We're still looking for a game-to-game improvement," the Kerry minor manager said.
While O'Connor was impressed with Mayo's demolition of Armagh in their respective quarter-final win, he said it was hard to judge based on the weakness of the Orchard County on the day.
"Mayo have always had good minor teams, looking at this particular team they appear to be strong up the middle and also have a good full-forward line. Any of the four teams left will feel that they can win it from here and our hope is that the surrounds and occasion won't get to the lads on Sunday," O'Connor said.
While the Pobalscoil Chorcha Dhuibhne contingent are returning to the scene of their dramatic Hogan Cup success back in April, O'Connor feels that Kerry did get the kind of test required for Sunday in the Munster Final against Cork back in early July.
"It was a tough one to prepare for with the Leaving Cert only having finished two weeks earlier, but when we asked questions in the last five minutes the lads came up with an improvement that you need to get over games like that," he said.
While Minor is always a level where players will be examined and assessed thoroughly, the South Kerry native feels that Kerry's first 24 is pretty much secure at this stage of campaign.
"I would say that it would be very hard for a player to break in beyond that at this stage, but we won't close our eyes to anyone who might yet be able to come in and make an impact."
When asked about the performances about Barry O'Sullivan in particular, O'Connor felt that the Dingle player is one who provides leadership to the side. It's an area that selector John Galvin feels the team is not lacking in.
"I think the spirit the lads showed against Cork proved it was there. It's certainly an area that you are going to be tested in going into Croke Park, but these players are strong characters and they have big match experience as well," Galvin said.
Defensively Galvin was happy with how Kerry almost halved what they conceded in the Munster Final up in Thurles against Kildare (1-8 as opposed to 2-14), but says in terms of his own role in the team he is still very much on a 'learning curve'.
"Jack O'Connor is one of the best managers there has been in the last thirty years so it's a pleasure to work with him. We all try to contribute as best we can to aspects of the team, but while there will be disagreements between us now and then, there is constant communication on how to move forward from there," he said.
Having been involved in the Kerry development squads prior to moving up to the minors, Galvin said that it is interesting to note how players have developed from where they were at that level, but feels colleges football has had a positive impact on the team this year.
"Pobalscoil and the Sem have had some great games at that level over the last couple of years and that can only drive a player on.
"There have also been some great games in the county minor championship, which have been of great benefit as well so I believe that big match experience that I talked about earlier really comes from there," according to Galvin.
A long drawn out campaign that has seen them play four games in four months reaches the penultimate start on Sunday in terms of deciding a finalist, whether Kerry advance or not remains to be seen, but Galvin feels that Kerry have done the best they can.
"It might look like we have plenty of time to get players ready for games, but with club commitments and everything else your time is restricted to maybe two main weeks before a game and you certainly have to make the most out of it."