Friday 23 March 2018

Kerry already planning to make amends - O'Neill

Dejected Kerry players Kieran Donaghy, Paul Murphy and James O'Donoghue after the defeat to Dublin
Dejected Kerry players Kieran Donaghy, Paul Murphy and James O'Donoghue after the defeat to Dublin
O'Neill: Can't explain poor display

Michael Verney

Bouncing back from defeat is ingrained in Kerry's psyche and selector Cian O'Neill is looking forward to all of the current management team being on board as the Kingdom embark on a journey of redemption in 2016.

O'Neill's remarkable coaching record speaks for itself and amazingly Sunday's defeat was his fifth All-Ireland final in six years after previous involvement with Mayo and the Tipperary hurlers.

The 36-year-old, who has been heavily linked to the vacant senior job in his native Kildare, expressed his belief that Kerry's entire backroom team will remain in place going forward.

"It's too soon to discuss any players calling time and our greatest strength within the squad is our strength together," he said.

"The lads and everyone involved are incredibly disappointed but we have a great set-up. I can't see anything changing and everyone is pretty adamant to right the wrongs next year."

The 2014 champions never got out of the blocks in one of their worst final displays in recent memory and were flattered by the three-point margin of defeat as Dublin controlled affairs.

Despite the heartbreak, Kerry chairman Patrick O'Sullivan last night confirmed Fitzmaurice and his selectors will be continuing - with O'Neill already looking ahead to next year.

"There are a lot of hurt minds and bodies but as with any loss we'll look to take the lessons out of this," he stressed. "It was not a true reflection of us and we'll come back next year better than ever and eager to make amends.

"Kerry have a great history of bouncing back and this team is no different. I've no doubt that this group will do that also."

Dublin recorded their third successive championship victory over their old rivals with a dominant display, which O'Neill says has left both management and players "searching for answers".

"We just didn't perform and any time when you go to battle in a big game you have to produce a big performance," said the man who's head of sport at Cork IT.

"Dublin were the better team and they executed the skills better on the day. I can't put my finger on why we didn't deliver yesterday, none of us can.

"We know how good we are and the most disappointing aspect is that we didn't play anything near to the potential that we have.

"But even with not performing we still had a penalty shout near the end that could have tied it. That's great testament to the lads that they stayed fighting against the odds right until the death."

While he acknowledged the benefit of the extra competitive action which Jim Gavin's side received from their replay win over Mayo in the semi-final, he didn't feel it was the difference-maker.

"The extra game for Dublin definitely helped, just like it did for us last year. It's hard to quantify how much it brings you on though. I wouldn't say that was the difference," he noted.

"Credit to them though, they worked incredibly hard and put absolutely everything into it. They won the battles all over the field and they deserve massive credit."

It wasn't all bad for Kerry, however, as their minor side secured back-to-back titles with an emphatic victory over Munster rivals Tipperary.

Former senior manager Jack O'Connor was at the helm for both Tom Markham Cup wins and long before it was announced in Tralee last night, he predicted yesterday that Eamonn Fitzmaurice would remain as senior boss beyond his initial three-year term.

"I'd say there's no fear of him going. Eamonn is the right man in the job and when he took over a couple of years ago, you would never have envisaged they'd be in two finals and they'd win one," O'Connor said.

"It was widely believed that Kerry were in transition. He's done a remarkable job with that team and he's there for as long as he wants it really."

On his own plans the Dromid Pearses clubman confirmed that he will take over the U-21s next year in an effort to help fast-track more players through to the senior ranks.

He laughed off any suggestions that he would take the senior reins again soon. "No no, I've done my stint there and I think the underage is where I'm happiest at the moment," he said.

Irish Independent

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