Kieran O'Leary: We're using 11-week break to work on weaknesses
Kerry captain Kieran O'Leary admits it's like starting pre-season all over again as the Kingdom fill the 11-week break between the end of the league and their first championship game.
O'Leary, who took over as captain after Colm Cooper's cruciate ligament rupture, says it's the longest run-in to a championship he has experienced. They are not in action until the weekend of June 21/22 against Clare or Waterford.
But they have been busy with club games and an intense period of training that includes a warm-weather training camp in Portugal, prompting selector Mike Sheehy to acknowledge that training is better than it was in 2013.
"When we were playing in the league we couldn't train as hard as we would have liked and get ourselves ready for the championship.
"Now we have given ourselves a good platform in training and getting games with the club, which is very important to us," said the Dr Crokes man.
O'Leary agrees that the long break, which arises because of the reshaped seeded Munster football draw that puts them straight into the provincial semi-final, is not ideal.
"It's not, but it gives us an opportunity to work on where we felt we went wrong in the league. We've had that much time to address our issues and there were a good few issues that needed addressing.
"That's the positive I've taken from it. The only negative is the momentum – if we were going well it would be gone now.
"It's a new team, there are new faces, you just don't know what the team is going to be come the beginning of the championship campaign."
O'Leary has welcomed the impact the black card and the advantage rule has had since its introduction this season.
"From a forward's perspective, it's going to benefit because it gets rid of the cynical play," he said.
"I still think there's going to be a serious physicality to the game but I'd be massively in favour of the black card.
"It's free-flowing and you can see from the scores in the league that it has become more entertaining.
"The referees, in fairness, did an outstanding job during the league. They were consistent with the rule.
"Sometimes you'd be calling for a free and little would you know that they're playing advantage. I think that it's a great rule, it just give the forward that extra bit of time."