Friday 22 November 2019

Keane to keep it simple in bid to meet Kerry's expectations

Daniel Kearney (Cork), Podge Collins (Clare), Tom Morrissey (Limerick) and Conor McDonald (Wexford) at Dublin Airport yesterday for the Aer Lingus jersey launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel Kearney (Cork), Podge Collins (Clare), Tom Morrissey (Limerick) and Conor McDonald (Wexford) at Dublin Airport yesterday for the Aer Lingus jersey launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

One of the biggest messages from Peter Keane's first Kerry media briefing last week was one of simplicity.

There is the distinct impression that Keane is not one to overcomplicate matters and when asked how he will address the Kingdom football squad at his first training session/meeting to make a good first impression, his response was telling.

"I'll say, 'hello, how are you doing' and we'll get on with it" was the retort of a manager who knows there is plenty of work to do if Kerry are to bounce back from a dismal 2018 and make inroads on the five-in-a-row-chasing Dubs.

The step up to the senior job for the triple All-Ireland minor-winning boss will no doubt be a steep learning curve but he expects to take it all in his stride and think on his feet, as he does as owner and manager of his own SuperValu store in Killorglin.


"Fundamentally, what are you doing - you are dealing with people. It is about man-management, that is what it is. Are you dealing with more expectation? Yes, there is no doubt about that. There is more expectation. We will have to go and see and what will happen," the Cahirsiveen native said.

"It's a change, dealing with different people, but they are still people. You deal with the circumstances. It's like the shop, if it's busy between 11 and 12 you make sure you have the staff on, but if it changes from one to two, you have to change things and adapt."

There is a clear appreciation that he needs to put his own stamp on the job and potentially reopening the gates of Fitzgerald Stadium - as he suggested last week - is likely to resonate with the Kerry faithful.

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Removing prying eyes from Kerry training drew the ire of many fans under Eamonn Fitzmaurice's reign while Keane - who led his local club St Mary's club to All-Ireland Junior club championship success in 2011 - is likely to scrap the development squad (known as K2) added by Fitzmaurice in recent seasons.

"The panel will be tighter because you have a job enough working with what you need to work with but there is definitely logic... look Eamonn was a very good manager and he knew what he was at," said Keane.

"He knew he had fellas leaving so he was trying to get players ready, he had four or five years' experience going into 2018 and had the experience to know that there's going to be a bit of a churn and I need to get players ready.

"We're coming in here new and fresh and we need to get our hands on the players that are going to make a difference for us now. I need to put a team and a structure together."

The tradition of the county champions nominating the Kerry skipper is one many feel is outdated, but Keane has no intention of rocking the boat despite recent captains being regularly unable to make the starting 15.

"It's a huge history here in Kerry. It's such an honour. I, as a county manager, have to respect whatever decision comes from the county board and those delegates and those clubs.

"The way the game has gone be it soccer or whatever, it's a natural thing that you get your leader in there and you get to nominate your leader but I'm aware of the importance of it and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

Keane appreciates that he faces a significant rebuilding job and has enlisted high-profile assistance in Donie Buckley and Maurice Fitzgerald, but there are likely to be teething problems - like yesterday's news of impending surgery for David Clifford - along the way. Supporters in the Kingdom aren't known for their patience, but that will have to change.

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