Kerry back Keane's 'strong team' to get young stars to the top level
The coronation may have taken longer than expected but Peter Keane's appointment as the new Kerry senior football manager finally brought to an end just over two months of speculation in the wake of Eamonn Fitzmaurice's decision to step down.
Chairman Tim Murphy defended the time it took to find a successor. Over the course of the process Murphy and the selection committee met "four or five people, at least" for the position in the wake of Fitzmaurice's shock decision to step down. The Finuge clubman had been handed the role until 2020 just last winter.
"It certainly wasn't too long for us," Murphy said of the process. "If we paid attention to the narrative and speculation that was being created by the media, we certainly wouldn't have arrived at any result.
"As a group, we put our heads down and focused on the task at hand. I am glad to say we came along with the name of Peter Keane and his extended management team. Is it too long? I am not too sure.
"If you take Michael Ryan in Tipperary, he stepped away from Tipperary the same time as Eamonn Fitzmaurice. He was ratified two weeks ago tonight.
The Tipperary U-21 hurling final was on the week before our minor final. If you are doing a like-for-like comparison with two counties, there was a week in the difference.
"There was no real media frenzy about the length of time it was taking in Tipperary, to the best of my knowledge. It took what it took.
"We can't be influenced by outside factors just because somebody said it should be shorter.
"We set out our stall at the last meeting as to when we were going to have a new manager and that was tonight. We stuck to that. I'd be happy with what we have done is correct."
"We interviewed and met four or five people, at least, for the position. Ultimately, the decision was made on the skill-set we felt Peter Keane had.
"He obviously has a huge track record at minor level. Outside of that, he has assembled a formidable management team. The man knows it is the sum of the parts, it is more than one person who will get results. He has a great ability to do that."
Murphy confirmed that Keane chose his own management team for the new season which includes highly respected coach Donie Buckley.
"Donie Buckley's credentials are unquestioned, with Limerick, Kerry and, in more recent years, with Mayo," Murphy said.
"The defensive strengths, tactically, as well the offensive play, he can do a mix of both. He brings a level of expertise that very few people in the county would have.
"I think the sum of the parts is what it is all about. I would be very confident that we have a seriously strong management team, collectively."
The final piece of the Kerry backroom team will be put in place when they appoint a new strength and conditioning coach. Joe O'Connor, who acted in that role for both Kerry and the Limerick hurlers in 2017, has stepped away.
"I think we have huge strides made in the S&C programme in Kerry, particularly this year since he came on board. He came in as head of athletic development, he has a programme now firmly in place which integrates the seniors with the U-20s with the minors and all the way down to development squads.
"The seeds are well in terms of progression from where we are at. There is an awful lot of groundwork done which the next management team can build on."
Murphy urged Kerry supporters to give the new management team time.
"There needs to be a degree of patience for the new management team. There is an integration from minor to U-20 to senior. It is not as easy as it might appear.
"Huge strides have been made in the past 12 months and it is up to the new management to develop that and integrate even more players than is already the case. It will be a challenge.
"With the spate of retirements that we have had over the last month, it underpins and underlines the gap that has now developed between the older players that have moved on and the spate of younger players that we do have.
"Nonetheless, I'd be very confident with the management team that we do have, they have the capacity and capability of getting them to the top level very quickly."