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Geaney hoping for injury-free run to build on 2014 success

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Kerry’s Paul Geaney attending yesterday’s Allianz NFL launch in Croke Park

Kerry’s Paul Geaney attending yesterday’s Allianz NFL launch in Croke Park

SPORTSFILE

Kerry’s Paul Geaney attending yesterday’s Allianz NFL launch in Croke Park

Twelve months ago Paul Geaney was preparing for a Sigerson Cup campaign and hoping his body wouldn't give out on him again.

You see, Geaney's fitness had developed an unhappy knack of deserting him at the most inconvenient times. He had been out of the underage ranks since 2011 but his senior career had seen a few false starts.

Back and hamstring problems would pop up on the eve of league campaigns. He was ruled out of the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin on the morning of the game.

Time and again he'd be edging towards fitness and seemingly ready to deliver on the potential he'd shown at underage only for injury to derail him once more.

Last year, was his first injury-free run and he made hay.

By New Year's Eve he could reflect on a season that saw him captain UCC to a Sigerson Cup and score a goal in an All-Ireland final to help Kerry to secure Sam Maguire once more.

"Thank God I got a good bill of health last year. Just after the first league game I was perfect from then on and I managed to stay injury-free for the rest of the year," he said, at the launch of the Allianz leagues.

"Hopefully there'll be more of the same this year."

Even now he sits with one finger in a brace but it won't keep him out of either today's Independent.ie Sigerson Cup clash with CIT in the Mardyke or Kerry's Division 1 league opener on Sunday against Mayo in Killarney.

The demands on intercounty players is a hot topic and it's a busy time of year for him but Geaney's not complaining.

Today he'll play with his college instead of training with Kerry and he'll take a game over a session at every opportunity.

And anyway, he doesn't have to go back too far for a time when he was sitting on his hands for large parts of the year.

"I counted up maybe 100 training sessions last year for 15 inter-county games," he said.

"I mean, that doesn't make sense. If you were playing more games that means you're training less, so why not go down that route?

Session

"I'm missing a training session in Kerry on Tuesday night but I'm playing a game.

"I'd rather play the game than train. That's what you want to do as a player, you want to play games and be competing all the time.

"There's the club debate, maybe compressing the Championship will be helpful, especially for the club players.

"I can remember three years ago when I was just a club player. I was frustrated because there were maybe only two county league games in the summer time.

"That's frustrating, and you're training all year. It's a disaster really for club players."

The Kingdom are, he admits, likely to be a bit rusty when Mayo come to Killarney.

Things are about a month behind where they were this time last year as Kerry had a delayed start to preparations due to their team holiday.

"There's bound to be some (rustiness) but we have had a good two weeks of training and ball work and hopefully we will hit the ground running on Sunday," he said.

"We're at home, which maybe is a double-edged sword where you are in front of your home crowd. But it is a home game which is more comfortable than having to go to Castlebar, which is a tough place to go."

And despite a stellar 2014, there'll be nothing taken for granted as Kerry prepare for another campaign. The various injuries have thought him that much.

First up for Geaney is securing his place in Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side in what will be an ultra-competitive forward line. The return of Tommy Walsh from the AFL and Colm Cooper's recovery from a knee injury have been well heralded but Geaney points out that Darran O'Sullivan is also back in contention, having been riddled by injury in 2014.

"It is going to be seriously tough with what is there now," he said.

"There is a lot of talk about Tommy and Gooch but Darran O'Sullivan had an injury-ravaged year so he is going to be fully fit again.

"So there's three players who could easily slot into the six forwards there. It's going to be tough."

Irish Independent