Saturday 16 February 2019

New Kerry boss Peter Keane won't entertain talk of stopping Dublin's 'drive for five'

Keane ‘open’ to allowing Kerry fans to watch training again

Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Kerry manager Peter Keane. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Given their unprecedented success at minor level, Kerry have been touted as one of the few viable candidates to thwart Dublin’s ‘drive for five’ but that’s far from the mind of new Kingdom senior football boss Peter Keane.

Addressing the media last night for the first time since being unveiled as Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s successor, triple All-Ireland minor-winning manager Keane was quick to put any talk of the Dubs on the back burner.

“I suppose I haven’t even a panel picked so where would I start on that one without a panel. That’s like digging a field and you don’t even have a shovel, we’ll get the shovel first and then we’ll start thinking about that one,” Keane said at Kerry’s Centre of Excellence in Currans.

With a plethora of underage talent available to him from their five-in-a-row minor squads, there will be great expectations in Kerry under Keane with anything but All-Ireland success viewed as a failure.

While well aware of such demands, Keane feels a dose of realism is needed after a disastrous 2018 season. “If you are looking at where we are in 2018, we are a long way from that,” he said.

“Wouldn’t that be lovely (winning an All-Ireland) but there isn’t much point in sitting here talking about that. My priority is to try and put a panel together and cracking on from there.”

Much was said of Fitzmaurice receiving poison pen letters from disgruntled Kingdom fans throughout his six-season reign - which was highlighted by their unlikely 2014 All-Ireland success - and Keane (above) admits it did give him some food for thought.

The Cahirciveen native insists he has a "tough skin" for things like that but he did contemplate the effects which taking on the high-profile position may have on his family.

"You would be more conscious of the people around you. When I am doing what I am doing, it is me that is doing it and you get a tough skin from that. I was reared in a hotel so you can be plenty sure there was plenty of racket going on," he said.

"Plenty of guff, plenty of rough nights. I would be tough enough because of all that. But you do consider your children, your wife, your parents or your in-laws. I wouldn't have any worry about it now."

Keane, who owns and runs his own SuperValu store in Killorglin, intends to leave his own stamp on the position and is "open to the idea" of re-opening the gates to Fitzgerald Stadium for supporters to watch Kerry training.

Prying

Under Fitzmaurice, prying eyes were denied access to their preparation which led to what many feel was a loss of connection between the county side and their spectators and Keane may alter that policy under his watch.

"I wouldn't be closing the gates all the time. I certainly wouldn't have gates locked all the time. I am open to the idea (of letting supporters watch). I don't see a problem, it served us well over many years," he said.

"You often hear about people coming down from other counties to watch Kerry training in the summer. Does that mean you bring them in all the time? Probably not. But there are times when I don't see it as a problem to open them."

While acknowledging that "it is probably a big job" - they will not enter the 2019 McGrath Cup - Keane has assembled a strong backroom team with James Foley and Tommy Griffin remaining from his minor set-up, while the acquisition of former Mayo coach Donie Buckley and Kerry legend Maurice Fitzgerald, who worked under Fitzmaurice for the past two seasons, have been viewed as a coup.

"Donie is a Kerry man through and through, a top-class coach, very experienced and was willing to get on board when I met him the week after the All-Ireland final. We had a chat, we gelled well together.

"Maurice was a no-brainer - I grew up with Maurice, we are friends from way back, when I got married he was my best man. He has been involved in the last two years which meant we weren't coming in cold to the players."

Irish Independent

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