Brosnan: Kerry hitting stride at right time
Captain praises O'Neill's 'shrewd' training regime
Even in the darkest days of last February when record books were being torn apart to unearth new extremes for Kerry football, they always had a sense of the bigger picture, a grander plan.
"All along they (the management) told us we would be peaking around now," revealed team captain Eoin Brosnan.
Brosnan reckons that in all his years as a Kerry footballer, that second week after the Munster final win over Cork was a particular milestone in preparation for him.
"The hardest I've ever trained in my Kerry career," he acknowledged. "The lads (selector and coach Cian O'Neill and manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice) said that we would be tired and the bodies were tired last week."
After a week back with the clubs, they lifted the tempo as the season veered away from Killarney and turned towards Croke Park and now Cavan.
Two gentle introductory games in the province, then a big step-up against Cork in the Munster final, which they survived to shorten the workload.
The profile of their summer is working out in accordance with their best- laid plans.
"During the league, it's well documented that we had bad results and there were a lot of stern words spoken in the camp really," he admitted.
"We set a goal playing against Down that we'd go unbeaten for the rest of the year. We didn't know if three wins would keep us up in the league, but, thankfully, it did.
"We knew we had three games in Fitzgerald Stadium. Get over those three games and you then have potentially three games in Croke Park and we're facing into the first of them now," he pointed out.
They've grown to appreciate those plans as the year has progressed, prompting Brosnan to crystallise the feeling of well-being.
"I would like to think that this Kerry team will be as well physically prepared as any Kerry team that's ever been at this stage going to face the Croke Park challenge.
"The team has trained very hard and every fella has bought in religiously to Cian O'Neill's programme. Whether it's the weights work done on your own or the onfield work, every training session is well organised and well-planned.
"There are two white sheets up on the board," he explained. "One tells you what jersey you're going to be wearing for training and the other tells you what the breakdown of training is and who is taking on the various segments, what the aim of that segment is and what the overall focus is on training for that night.
"You always know exactly where you stand. Certainly we're very well physically prepared. I've been involved since 2000 and I think this team is up there with the best physically prepared teams that have ever represented the county."
The detachment Fitzmaurice, as a former player, colleague, friend and even relation in one case, has been able to bring as manager has also impressed Brosnan, who has only lately shaken off the effects of a long-standing calf injury.
"He's very shrewd, one thing he'd always say is that he's open and if a player feels he's hard done by, he can pick up the phone to him and the management and they'll tell him where they think he can improve. They're very approachable in that regard.
"If he feels you're slacking, he'll tell you straight out; if he feels you're pushing for a place in the first 15 or the first 26, he'll tell you. There's a fairness about him.
"In a new set-up there's always a new approach and the players have bought into it. He expects high standards and in some sessions which have been going badly, those sessions have been halted and there have been f*** words thrown. Fellas know they're there for work."
Brosnan acknowledged that what happened in the second half of the Munster final was a "concern" that has since been addressed.
Kerry led by nine points at one stage, but six successive Cork points once more shone a light on Kerry's inability to preserve big leads, a common thread in their 2011 Munster final against Cork, the 2011 All-Ireland final against Dublin, the 2012 league semi-final against Mayo and even their last league game this year against Tyrone.
"What happened in the second half against Cork certainly is a concern to everyone in the camp," said Brosnan.
"You could really put the Tipperary and Waterford games aside, with no disrespect to them. But you're into the business end of the season now, when you're going to be playing top level teams.
"We've really only played one top level team so far and that game has given us worries, but we'd also like to think we've work done to address those worries and issues."
His involvement has been restricted to substitute roles, but for the first time this year, he feels he can make a more meaningful contribution.
"I've had four weeks injury-free training now and the body is certainly in a lot better shape and in a much better place than it was six or seven weeks ago."