Thursday 22 August 2019

Keane excited to see how his young guns react to latest test

Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kerry manager Peter Keane classes himself as a traditionalist.

So when it comes to championship structures, he's an advocate of the do-or-die, high-wire nature of knockout football and all the 'on a given day' romance it entails.

The current structure is well removed from that. Tyrone have lost once and Mayo have lost twice but are still just a victory away from the All-Ireland final.

That's not to say he's against the more forgiving nature of the Super 8s but Keane (below) insists that any system that offers more second chances is bound to benefit the haves rather than the have-nots.

"There are pluses to it (the Super 8s format)," Keane reflected. "Such as bringing the first game to the home patch of the provincial champions. Could the argument be made that the provincial champions should get the added benefit of having two games at home?

Crowds "There are other fellas talking about the games being taken out of Croke Park because you don't have the crowds for it. Looking at the television over the weekend, there was definitely more of an atmosphere at Castlebar. Killarney was electric in the Mayo game. There is obviously tweakings going on.

"Personally, I loved the cut and thrust of championship years ago where if a team were beaten, they were beaten and they were done, whereas are you now in a situation where you are creating an environment where the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer, and you are giving more chances to the bigger and better counties to stay involved for longer than the weaker counties. I'd probably be a traditionalist, in that (I like) championship being championship. It seems to have changed everywhere now."

But the safety net has been removed for everybody now. And they have just a week to prepare for Tyrone - who themselves rested almost all of their front-line players for their dead rubber game against Dublin last weekend - in an All-Ireland final.

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"It is tight (the one-week turnaround), there is no question about it," Keane agreed.

"I haven't been in this position before to be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final with a seven-day turnaround. Probably the hardest part is that you were away in Navan and you had a long journey down.

"You had all day Friday and Saturday, then Sunday is pretty much a write-off because fellas would be wrecked from the from the road and the match. It is not ideal."

Two weeks would be preferable and he points out that rushing things at this time of year only affects a handful of counties in terms of their club schedule.

"It is what they have done in bringing forward the All-Ireland from mid-September to the beginning of September. There is a knock-on effect. They are doing it to give more time to club fixtures. I'm not necessarily sure that works because, at the end of the day, there are only two counties involved in an All-Ireland final.

"They are the only two counties who are going to have an issue with fixtures. It is not as if it is affecting the 32 counties. It is only affecting two of them. If you had another week to prepare it would be better, yeah." 

Already, Kerry have gone one better than last year by getting out of their Super 8s group and so far it has been a year that hints that there are big things to come for Kerry. In Keane's first competitive game in charge at the back end of January, Kerry came out on top against Tyrone but Keane insists that will have no relevance.

"That was a big day in Killarney, our first day. A big crowd turned up. A few new fellas came into the team. Tyrone came into the game off the back of a hard enough MacKenna Cup campaign.

Comparison "You have a long journey from Tyrone down to Killarney. There is no comparison between the two."

And he is excited to see how his young side react to this latest test. 

"I would not like to say that we are in bonus territory. But there has been a lot of change which was forced upon us. Guys who were of an age to go, left and that was just the way things were. I think we have given nine debuts this year and when you factor in Jonathan Lyne coming back in, Jack Sherwood back in and Tommy Walsh coming back in, there has been a huge change.

"This is a very young team and of the nine I mentioned only seven started last year so there has been a huge change. That then results in a lack of experience.

"And how do you get experience? By being in there and playing and that is how you move on."

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