Crowley: Castleknock tests best preparation possible
HE admits that he is still trying to come back down to Earth a bit after the Castleknock saga, but Enda Crowley feels Kenmare could not have asked for any better preparation ahead of this Sunday's All-Ireland Junior Club Final.
"I think those were three of the best games any team at any level could have asked for. I think any rustiness or any bit of form we might have lost over the Christmas period was certainly regained with the way all three of those games were contested," he told The Kerryman.
Closer to home, while Crowley doesn't necessarily think the County League makes a big difference in the Club Championships, he believes the club certainly got the best out of Division Two in 2012.
"We certainly feel that is our level (Division Two) and we had some good performances in the League, but as Na Gaeil themselves proved you can get a good championship team that are plying their trade in Division Four and you would not think there were two divisions between the teams when you look a bit more closely at the final back in October," the Kenmare selector said.
The choice of Fitzgerald Stadium as their home venue for Munster (where they defeated Rockchapel in the semi-final) might be viewed as a shrewd one in terms of giving them experience of a big venue like they had in Croke Park last Saturday week, but Crowley said the focus was much closer to home in the dressing room before their outing in GAA headquarters.
"Father Breen Park is two metres wider than the pitch in Croke Park and we told the lads that before they went out in the third game. We also told them that they had played on other big pitches in getting there and not to be too put out by the surroundings there which thankfully they weren't," he said.
The form of Paul O'Connor has been central to Kenmare getting here more than anything else, however, and the Kenmare selector feels there is a lesson to be learned in getting the best out of a player like their captain.
"Leaving the Kerry set-up for a while was one of the best things that could have happened to Paul and the club by extension I feel. He's getting far more competitive games and I personally believe numbers 20-30 in the county panel should be released to play for their clubs at every opportunity because you're not going to improve as a footballer if you're not playing competitive games," Crowley believes.
Now comes the decider and while their opponents Ballinasloe have had two good viewings of the Shamrocks up close and personal, we can expect something a bit different on Sunday in the final according to Crowley, who works closely alongside team boss Pat O'Connor (pictured).
"I'm sure Ballinasloe took a lot from the two games they saw us in, but we will be making a few changes to suit ourselves and they have an inter-county defender and two good corner-forwards in their ranks. I think it will come down to intensity on the day and we hope to keep ours at the level it's at and take the chances when they come."