Monday 20 November 2017

Last-eight format in need of shake-up - Geaney

Kerry's Paul Geaney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Kerry's Paul Geaney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The proposal to introduce a round-robin format to the All-Ireland quarter-finals have been backed by Kerry's only current All-Star Paul Geaney.

The format set for debate at Congress in February has been endorsed by Geaney who would welcome the opportunity to play a knock-out championship match in Killarney. Under the proposal, All-Ireland quarter-finalists would have home and away games in addition to a Croke Park game.

"I'd love to play a big home game in Killarney," he said. "We have Munster Championship there but there's always a cushion that, if you do lose, you have another shot. But it would be great to have something like a knock-out game at some stage or a final group game where things really matter.

Disadvantage

"It would be great to see some sort of a change in the format because as it is we had four games in the championship this year and spent eight months preparing for them."

Contrary to more widely-held opinion, Geaney believes Kerry are at a "disadvantage" with the current provincial system that has traditionally given them a softer route to the play-offs.

"As a Kerry player, I'd be confident going into every game to beat opposition. Maybe in Ulster there's a lot more slogging to get through to a (provincial) final and then a quarter-final and semi-final with the nature of the hits and the nature of the training and the games on the body.

"But if you get through Ulster without injury you're in a great place because you've had all the tough battles and mentally you could only be in a great place having got through that.

"We're at a disadvantage in that sense. Mentally, you can't really feel totally satisfied unless you're winning tight games by a point or two."

Geaney recovered from back and shoulder injuries to have his best season yet in a Kerry jersey, scoring 3-13 from play.

But his year ended with a surprise substitution in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin after he had scored four points, a move manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has since admitted might not have been correct.

But Geaney has put that behind him and feels Fitzmaurice's commitment to Kerry for a further two years has given them real direction.

"We were disappointed when he extended by just a year last year and some guys were asking, 'Why didn't you commit to two years or three years?' I think Eamonn didn't want things to go stale, he wanted things to be fresh.

"Most people would be selfish and only think about themselves and think about what they want but Eamonn had Kerry football in mind. He didn't want to overstay his welcome."

The loss of Mark O'Connor to AFL robs Geaney not just of a county colleague but a Dingle club colleague too and he feels the carrot of a bursary could work to keep the top Gaelic footballers from going to Australia.

"As clubmen, we're delighted for him because it's what he's had on his mind the last couple of years. He's an extremely talented guy, he's hard-working. He's had a knee injury the last couple of years and every single day he's been in the gym rehabbing it and it was heartbreaking to see him get the setbacks.

"In one sense, it's a massive, huge loss for our club. We would have expected him to go on and play for Kerry," he said.

"The college bursaries might help. I got one, they're between €500 and €1,000. They're handy but they're not what keeps a guy in college. If you gave maybe €5,000 to the top two or three, it might help to keep them around."

Irish Independent

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