Tuesday 24 October 2017

Long road to 'Kerry Embassy' starts here

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Tipperary play Kerry tomorrow and it should be a great day out for all concerned, but where's the queen? Her Majesty was in the English Market in Cork city, where the British Queens are balls of flour.

It's not the first time we've been cheated out of a VIP visit by the Cork crowd. My late father always reckoned the reason St Patrick didn't visit Kerry was because the Cork crowd stole his ass in Kanturk.

It's early in the year for royal tourists and for championship football. This is league weather. Gales without any sense of direction blow the as-yet-unacclimatised swallows around like paper bags. The darling buds are but pimples.

The sun teased before hiding behind a cloud screen and the guerrilla showers that followed filled the deaths page and the pneumonia wards.


Balls dropping from a great height still leave a visible plug mark. The cat solarium on our front window sill is as underused as the spa in the Hotel Nama.

We're off to Cardiff where the roof will keep out the weather, maybe, but more about that on Monday.

Tipperary also played host to the queen. The Rock of Cashel is a wonder, but it's a hurling stronghold. Typical Tipp. No way they'd send the queen to Moyle Rovers or Clonmel Commercials.

There's another big day in Cashel today. Scoil Chormaic hosts half the Munster team and Michael Lynagh. The school looks after kids in need. It will make for some great day, but there's no truth in the rumour the queen will throw in the ball.

To the victor the spoils. Cork won the football and Tipp won the hurling, so it's only fair Her Highness went to the winning counties.

We were lucky enough to get a home draw against Tipperary in Killarney, where Queen Victoria came to visit back when we didn't even have the one Sam.

I suppose we can't complain. The queen did visit our embassy in Dublin -- Croke Park.

The usual bunch of patriots tried to disrupt a truly historic and worthwhile occasion. What I want to know is who is minding the head shop shebeens while the lads are out freeing Ireland?

Sport really does matter and our rugby supporters and the Irish team gave a clear signal as to the true feelings of a nation on that famous night at Croke Park.

That game was a test case and for sure if 'God Save the Queen' had been booed down by a baying crowd, there would have been no royal visit.

We'll play our own anthem on the public address in Killarney or maybe they might have a singer, or is too early for a live act?

Tipp will go hard at us for around an hour, then Kerry will take over. John Evans will speak of learning curves and Jack O'Connor will tell 'The Sunday Game' All-Irelands aren't won in May.

That's the usual story in Killarney, but I'm not so sure about this one. Last year in Thurles, Tipp were a lot faster than Kerry. Their young team were outmuscled in the end. Much will depend on how well Tipp have trained on.

Jack is trying to team-build in small steps, but I am fairly certain he still hasn't found his best line-up.

We now have excellent professional coaches here in North Kerry, but these systems have been in place in other counties for 15 years. Soccer in the county is well ahead in terms of structures.

Kerry football needs an urgent makeover.

Every club must be evaluated. The regional boards are badly in need of reform.

Clubs and boards have been given far too much

autonomy. There should be a full report on every club and every board. Clubs will have to be amalgamated.

Emigration is stripping us bare, but soccer and complacency are now the biggest threats to Kerry football.

We will always have natural players who send blankies flying out of cots. The skill levels are as high as ever. The secret? The kids just copy their predecessors.

Over-coaching is worse than no coaching at all. Drills should be kept for growing spuds. Just give the kids a ball and coach them through games.

Tipp will not be afraid. Their minors scored a famous victory over us on Wednesday evening and last year, the Tipp U-21s knocked us out of the championship. Tipp are well used to meeting us from 15 on.

Napoleon said you should not fight your opponents too often, lest they get to know too much about you.


Most hope Kerry will get a tough game, thereby exposing weaknesses at an early stage. Morale is good within the camp and amazingly there are no rumours of dissension.

Yes, Kerry should win but what about next year and the years after that?

We went 11 seasons without a win from 1986 to 1997. Paidi O Se managed us to that most important Sam ever in 1997.

His achievement in saving our tradition has never rightly been recognised. That famine might come again, but then again all you need is one or two coming through off every minor team.

Will we win the All-Ireland? Yes, but only if we go the dangerous road. Tomorrow, though, is too early to set off. It would nice to bring Cork to Killarney of the Welcomes and get beaten, ideally.

Irish Independent

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