Kerry may not have kicked a ball in anger in months but I doubt Peter Keane has had much downtime since taking over from Eamonn Fitzmaurice in October.
Assembling a new team is always fraught with challenges but Keane’s job has been made doubly difficult by an exodus of some of Kerry’s most senior players at the end of last season. Considering the manner in which Kerry exited the Super 8s in 2018, expectations should be relatively low for the coming campaign but, as we all know, that’s not how it works around here. Keane, like every Kerry bainisteoir before him, will be under pressure to get results straight away, regardless of the players he has at his disposal.
So how has the Cahersiveen native fared in his first 100 days in office?
A shaky start
The former minor manager barely had his feet under his desk when the first controversy of his regime came to light. Keane compiled a list of approximately 40 players, all of whom were informed by management that they were to be part of an extended Kerry panel for pre-season training ahead of the 2019 campaign.
However, a number of players who were in with Kerry in 2018 but evidently not in Keane’s plans were not informed of their omission. This left established squad members like Barry John Keane and Fionn Fitzgerald out in the cold with no idea if they were in or out. You had a situation where senior Kerry players had to ask around to find out if a squad had even been named.
That’s an embarrassing position for anyone to find themselves in and you would have thought that their many years of service merited a kinder farewell than that.
The issue was raised at the time by Kerins O’Rahilly’s at a County Board meeting and Kerry GAA Chairman Tim Murphy said things would be done differently in the future. But at a recent press conference the Kerry manager doubled down on his decision to not contact outgoing squad members, insisting that, “they hadn’t been my players”.
That doesn’t really cut it as far as I’m concerned. How long would it have taken to look at last year’s panel, put an ‘x’ next to the relevant names and make a couple of calls? Or at least send a text? Fitzgerald and BJ Keane were popular characters in the dressing room and I doubt the incident went down too well with their teammates, not to mention their clubmates who did end up making the 40 (eight at last count – five Crokes and three Rahilly’s).
The Famous 40
Rumours of a radical overhaul were rife in the opening weeks of Keane’s reign. As many as 20 of Fitzmaurice’s 40 had been cut instantly, if reports were to be believed. Every Kerryman who kicked a size 5 O’Neill’s in 2018 was “in there” at some point in that first fortnight or so as speculation spread like wildfire through WhatsApp groups the length and breadth of the county.
As it turned out, a lot of it was pub talk – although by my count there are actually 15 new faces in the current extended panel (that’s if the re-called Jonathan Lyne, Jack Sherwood and Tommy Walsh can be classified as “new”.)
Kerry’s full back line struggled at times in 2018 but Keane appears to have added just one player in this department, although a number of half backs are also capable of filling in if necessary.
At the other end, one notable omission is Tony Brosnan, the sharp-shooting corner forward who lit up the Kerry SFC with Dr Crokes in 2018. Brosnan earned plaudits from the national media on the back of some remarkable performances in the championship and he had been widely tipped to make the Kerry senior squad for 2019. It is my understanding that Keane initially included the Killarney man in his panel of 40 but he must have subsequently changed his mind as Brosnan is no longer involved.
The Crokes contingent
Even if Brosnan did make the cut, opportunities to force his way into the team would have been limited. Dr Crokes are currently preparing for an All-Ireland Club Championship semi-final on February 16 so none of their players are available to Peter Keane for the upcoming National League games against Tyrone, Cavan and Dublin. If Crokes beat Mullnalaghta they will have another All-Ireland final on March 17, which will probably rule all of their players out of Kerry’s league campaign entirely.
Keane is unlikely to hand any player their debut in the championship so newcomers David Shaw and Michael Potts might have to wait until next year to make their breakthrough, while Crokes’ run could also potentially hurt the chances of Shane Murphy and Micheál Burns, neither of whom could currently be classed as “guaranteed starters” in Kerry colours – especially with a new manager at the helm. You would expect All-Star-nominated defender Gavin White to slot into the team regardless.
Being without five of his 40 (six including Kevin McCarthy of Kilcummin) due to club commitments at this time of year is far from ideal for Keane but if anything it highlights how flawed the current GAA schedule is.
Keane faced another difficult question last week when he was asked if the ongoing garda probe into an alleged vicious assault involving three prominent footballers, all of whom have played for Kerry at various grades in the past, would impact him as Kerry manager.
In an uncomfortable exchange with Irish Examiner Sports Editor Tony Leen, Keane responded by asking, “why should it?” before claiming that he didn’t know who the players in question are. When pressed on the issue, the Kerry manager reiterated his position, adding that he didn’t see any names in the paper – “unless you know more than me”.
Leen confirmed that he knows who the players are (as does everyone else with so much as a passing interest in Kerry football) but Keane remained steadfast, insisting that he doesn’t know the identity of the three men allegedly under investigation.
In Keane’s defence, you can understand him not wanting to speak on the matter and he really has no obligation to speak about it seeing as how the footballers in question aren’t part of his panel. It certainly isn’t something he wants to be dealing with as he prepares his team for their league opener this weekend. He has enough to worry about in that regard.
It has been an eventful first 100 days for the new manager but now the real challenge begins. Kerry seem a long way away from the mountain top at the moment but as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Pic: Don MacMonagle
Fans return to Fitzgerald Stadium after eight months
By Sean Moriarty Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game. Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the […]
By Sean Moriarty
Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game.
Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the first game at the stadium since the 2020 Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Football Championship Quarter-Final when Glenbeigh-Glencar played Beaufort on October 4 last year.
Due to current restrictions only 200 fans were allowed attend Saturday’s big match. That will remain in place for Kerry’s opening Munster Championship tie with Clare on June 26.
“It had been more than eight months since Fitzgerald Stadium welcomed back fans to the venue,” stadium PRO Tatyana McGough told the Killarney Advertiser. “Everything went exceptionally well.”
She is hopeful that more restrictions will be eased on July 5, paving the way for an increase in capacity to 500 fans in time for the July 25 Munster Final.
“It is likely that from July 5 up to 500 spectators may be permitted to attend games. We hope this number will increase for the Munster Final. If it is a Cork versus Kerry Munster Final the game will be fixed for Sunday July 25 at 4pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The stadium’s staff are very confident in being able to host any number of fans that may be allowed.”
Garda appeal to park legally at beaches and public amenities
An Garda Siochana is appealing to the public to park legally in designated car parks and spaces when visiting beaches, beauty spots and other public amenities.
The good weather has seen an increase in dangerous illegal parking at these locations across the country in recent weeks. An Garda Siochana wants people to enjoy the summer but do so safely.
Parking illegally can lead to unnecessary risk and dangers such as pedestrians being forced to walk along dangerous roads. It can also prevent emergency services from gaining access to these amenities a seaside locations which could lead to the loss of life.
“We encourage the public to plan their journeys and think safety first when parking your vehicle,” the Gardai said in a statement.
“The outcome of parking illegally could be far more serious than a FCPN or vehicle towing and puts others and your own life at risk.
An Garda Siochana reminds and encourages the public to social distance and follow public health guidelines when attending these locations this Summer.
An Garda Siochana is also supporting National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 14th – 20th). Information on this campaign and general water safety can be found on Water Safety Irelands Website – www.watersafety.ie/national-water-safety-awareness-week/
IFTA nomination for Jessie Buckley
By Michelle Crean Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week. Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at […]
By Michelle Crean
Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week.
Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at a virtual IFTA awards ceremony which will be broadcast on Virgin Media One on Sunday, July 4.
Other well-known Irish actors up for awards include Brendan Gleeson for ‘The Comey Rule’, Paul Mescal for ‘Normal People’, Dervla Kirwan ‘Smother’ and Gabriel Byrne for ‘Death of a Ladies Man’.
Over the past few months during lockdown, the Irish Academy Members have been busy viewing, deliberating, and shortlisting the very best work from across great Irish films, performances, and achievements.
Nominations have been shortlisted by Irish Academy members alongside a specialist jury panel of industry experts from around the world.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no physical IFTA Awards Ceremony until March 2022, in keeping with COVID guidelines and best international practice.
Further details about the show and the international guest participants will be announced shortly.
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