Sunday 25 March 2018

Star-studded Kerry 'hold no fears' for Galway

Galway U-21 manager Gerry Fahy. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway U-21 manager Gerry Fahy. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

All the football talk this weekend is of a star-studded Kerry U-21 side, who are already 8/15 All-Ireland favourites and have the potential to dominate the game's landscape over the next decade.

Twenty barren years had elapsed since the Kingdom's last All-Ireland minor triumph before Jack O'Connor took the helm and guided them to back-to-back titles, quickly added to by Peter Keane's 2016 vintage when O'Connor stepped up to the U-21 fold.

Rising Star: Galway’s Michael Daly. Photo: Sportsfile
Rising Star: Galway’s Michael Daly. Photo: Sportsfile

To say Kerry's underage cup is overflowing right now would be an understatement and further evidence was available last Sunday with many of the youngsters excelling in their Allianz League Division 1 football final success over Dublin.

Expectations are high in the county, with some suggesting that today's EirGrid All-Ireland U-21 semi-final opponents Galway need not make an appearance in Cusack Park, Ennis (4.30) given the one-way traffic expected.

Gerry Fahy isn't daunted, however, and while the Galway boss is "under no illusions" about what's coming down the tracks, he feels his Connacht championship-winning side are in the last four on merit and the Kingdom "will not hold any fear".

Between the minor triumphs, as well as Hogan Cup wins for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne (2014-15) and St Brendan's College, Killarney (2016-17), an abundance of Kerry footage could be analysed, but Fahy prefers to take a simpler approach.

"I'm not really into focusing on the opposition too much, I prefer to pay more attention with developing ourselves to the best we can be and if you do that, that's the most important part of the job. If we play to the best of our ability we have a chance," he said.

"If you don't have your own house in order first there's no point in talking about the opposition, and you can't control them anyway. You're better off focusing on yourself."

Little was expected of this crop out west with Fahy admitting that negativity was seeping into their psyche from the outside, but after taking more than 90 in for trials, their Connacht quarter-final success over Leitrim was a first provincial win for many of the squad.

All-Ireland winners Mayo were dethroned in the semi-finals; then Sligo were clinically disposed of in extra-time with senior star Michael Daly - son of Galway great Val - in excellent form and Sean Kelly bagging two goals off the bench.

Kerry are a jump in class but Fahy is not deterred. "We know we're stepping into the big league but that's what we want to do, we know that's where we'll learn, that's how we're going to develop."

Irish Independent

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