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Five things I learned at the Kerry team’s press day



Adam Moynihan was at the Gleneagle Hotel as manager Jack O’Connor, selectors Mike Quirke and Diarmuid Murphy, and centre back Tadhg Morley spoke to the media ahead of the All-Ireland final. Here’s what he discovered.

1. Kerry returned to earth quickly after the Dublin game

You could forgive the players for lingering up in the clouds for a few days after that monumental win a fortnight ago. In fact, speaking post-match, manager Jack O’Connor admitted that it wouldn’t be easy to ground his players following that high.

Tadhg Morley feels the group managed to do just that, however. And quite quickly, too.

“There was the initial release of emotion at the final whistle the last day [against Dublin] but once we came into the dressing room then we calmed things down,” the Templenoe man said. “We spoke about Mayo beating the Dubs last year and then not finishing out the job.

“It was a quick turnaround but Jack and the lads spoke very well. Jack has so much experience. Straight after the match he knew what to say to bring us back down to earth.

“Us talking to Seánie more about his penalty than his free probably helped as well!”

Mike Quirke admitted that management were concerned that last Wednesday’s training session – the team’s first after the Dublin match – would be “a bit down”. It wasn’t.

“That’s a testament to the attitude the players are bringing,” Quirke said.

2. The third quarter is a concern

“We have plenty of holes to pick in the performance [in the semi-final],” O’Connor insisted. “Plenty of holes. Because our performance across the four quarters wasn’t even enough to give you confidence going into a final. I thought our third quarter was poor. We left Dublin back into it.”

Diarmuid Murphy agreed. “In some of the games we haven’t started the second half well. You try to get to the bottom of it, see are there any recurring themes that are emerging, tackle it, and see if we can do better the next day.”

3. The team has placed an emphasis on mental toughness

“When we got a few body blows in that Dublin game, it would have been very for us to capitulate,” O’Connor reflected. “But there was a grim determination to hang in there. I think a lot of that is probably down to the work Tony (Griffin) has done with the boys.”

Morley said that performance coach Griffin has made a “huge difference” since coming on board. “The last few years we never felt we were a million miles away from winning the All-Ireland, even though when you don’t win it, you are.

"We’re only looking for a couple of small percentages here and there. That was a big one, the mental side of the game. The mind is an amazing thing.

“A big thing Tony and Paddy (Tally) spoke about, and we spoke about it as a group ourselves: when the Dubs do have that purple patch or we’re coming down the stretch and it’s really hard, that you don’t shell up, that you don't shy away from it, that you're looking for the ball every single time.

“That was as big thing for us and you really saw it the last day. A few leaders really stood up and everybody followed through then.”

4. Jack has the human touch

After he stepped away from the fold, Kerry defender Shane Enright said he felt he had been left in the dark by Peter Keane. A perceived lack of communication over an unexpected positional change left him frustrated. It appears as though the current manager is taking a different approach.

“In fairness to Jack, he’s a very good man manager,” Morley said. “[When he was appointed] he went around and met all the players around Kerry, which is a really good touch I thought. It showed a good progression and good management skills.”

“One of his greatest strengths is that he’s constantly talking to players,” Quirke added.

“There are some managers who don’t do that. His communication with players is as good as I’ve ever come across. The players know that they can [talk to him]. He’s very open to that kind of stuff. That side of things is very important, that players understand that there’s a personal connection there.”

5. Kerry are trying to avoid ‘loose talk’

Unsurprisingly, some Kerry fans are anticipating an easy win. The Kerry squad are avoiding that kind of rhetoric like the plague.

“That’s why you have to insulate the players as much as possible from the public,” the manager explained.

“This is my eighth or ninth final. I know the pitfalls that are there. Players are in a totally different bubble to supporters. Supporters see All-Ireland finals as occasions with razzmatazz and a great atmosphere and all the rest of it, whereas the players have to divorce themselves, most of the time, from that. They have to understand this is about performing on the big day.”

“We just focus on ourselves and our own jobs and our own training,” Morley said. “Lads stay away from all that kind of talk - that loose kind of talk. We just focus in on what we're trying to do for the Galway game.”

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Popularity of Ladies Gaelic Football on the rise

According to official TAM Ireland figures, 491,000 tuned into TG4’s coverage of the TG4 Ladies Football finals on Sunday with an average audience of 204,900 people watching the live broadcast […]




According to official TAM Ireland figures, 491,000 tuned into TG4’s coverage of the TG4 Ladies Football finals on Sunday with an average audience of 204,900 people watching the live broadcast of the Senior Final between Meath and Kerry.

The match had a 30.6% share of viewing among individuals. Viewing peaked at 5.10pm with 279,800 viewers as Meath closed in on the two in a row to retain the Brendan Martin Cup.

A total 46,400 attended the match in person in Croke Park on Sunday, the first TG4 Ladies Football Final to have full capacity allowance since 2019.

Viewers from over 50 countries tuned into the finals on the TG4 Player with 14,000 streams of the game from international viewers. Over 20,000 streams were also registered from Irish viewers.

TG4 Director General Alan Esslemont said: “My deepest gratitude to all the counties especially Wexford and Kerry who battled to the end through this season’s Championship, hearty congratulations to both Laois and Meath and I am really looking forward to the re-match of Antrim and Fermanagh which will be carried live on TG4. A special word of thanks goes to the huge crowd which travelled to the Finals from all the corners of Ireland. County Meath especially have become a role model for other counties in how to build huge attending support for LGFA in both genders and at all ages. Sunday’s massive expression of Meath ‘fandom’ in Croke Park brought their county the greatest credit.

Sunday’s broadcast was the 22nd edition of the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Championship, a unique history of a sport minoritized by society being championed by a language media minoritized by the state. By consciously standing together we have grown together. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the LGFA in 2024 let us all hope by that time that we are even further along the road towards true equality of opportunity for both Ladies Gaelic Football and Irish language media.”


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Following her World Championships debut, Leahy is hungry for more



Adam Moynihan met Killarney sprinter Sarah Leahy at the Killarney Valley AC Arena to chat about her recent appearance at the World Championships, her goals for the rest of the year, and a very special pair of socks

Hi Sarah. Thanks for showing me around Killarney Valley’s facilities. It’s an impressive set-up.

The track facilities here are perfect. We have everything we need and Killarney Valley are always looking to improve the facilities and the club itself. All the people behind the scenes at are the MVPs, people like Jerry and Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, and Bríd Stack to mention just a few.

You recently competed in the World Championships in Oregon as part of the Irish 4 x 100m relay team, finishing eighth in your heat. How did you feel the event went for you?

We’re very proud of each other, and we did well, but we definitely could have run better. We had more. We were aiming for and felt we were capable of running a national record. But on the day, it just didn’t happen.

Personally, it was a great experience. I loved every second of it. But I will admit that the actual running part is a bit of a blur. I came onto the track and there’s this huge stadium, but I was more looking around at the people I was running against. Ewa Swoboda – I thought she’d win the World Indoor – she was four people away from me and I was looking at her… She was probably like, ‘Why is this woman staring at me?’ I was very nervous. But it was still amazing and I hope I can do it again.

The fact that I was running against international athletes that have been to the Olympics and been finalists, I was kind of star struck. My trainers are like, okay Sarah, calm down. You’re meant to be here. Don’t act like you shouldn’t.

Can you describe your mindset before a race? Do you often get nervous?

On the line it’s all about how you’re feeling, what you can do. You just have to get mentally prepared for a good start. Especially for me. Get out, and run as fast as you can. Just getting in the zone, I guess. I’ll know if I’m not in the zone, because I’m thinking of other things. If I’m on the blocks my head shouldn’t be wandering. It should be blank and all I should be waiting for is that gun.

Would you say that you’re an ultra competitive person?

I’m a competitive person, obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be competing at this level. But I also come from a team background, and I’m friends with a lot of these girls, so I want them to do well as well. And if they happen to beat me, fair play. You put in the training, you did very well. I’m very happy for you.

We all kind of get prepared differently. A lot of people for the warm-up, which is an hour or half an hour before the race, have the earphones on, gameface on, not talking to anyone, not smiling at anyone. I’m completely different. The more nervous I am, the more I’m going to talk.

There was a situation in Greece where everyone had their earphones on and I was mad to talk to everyone. That could change but as of right now I do tend to talk a lot. And then, going on to the track, obviously there’s no more talking. You’re getting ready for the race and mentally preparing.

Tell me about the socks you wore in Oregon.

[laughs] My socks were a Valentine’s Day gift from my boyfriend, Daniel. They had his face all over them and they say ‘I love you’. So yeah, I just ran the Worlds with my boyfriend’s face on my feet. He was delighted!

Daniel was the person who pushed for me to go back to running. He knew I was no longer enjoying the football and he heard the way I spoke about athletics. He helped me make the decision to go back. It was the best decision so it was only right I wore the socks and he was there in some way. I probably wouldn’t have been there without him.

Did you have some of your own supporters over there?

Yes, my mom and dad (Marie and Mike) actually travelled over. They spent the week and it was unreal to have them there. And then my cousins from Vancouver in Canada drove down which was I think over 10 hours. I was actually warming up before the relay and then I saw and heard my family with all their Kerry jerseys, Irish jerseys, Irish flags, roaring my name. That was really nice.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2022?

I was hopeful that we were going to send a 4 x 100 relay team to the Europeans but I just got an email saying that we wouldn’t, which is disappointing. I know some of top 2022 female sprinters aren’t available but some are and with any of them we would do well over there. We would be competitive. We held our qualification of being in the top 16 teams all summer so it’s a pity that, at the last second, we aren’t going.

In saying that, the women’s Irish relay will continue to work hard and we have a lot more to give. We will prove that next year.

You’re moving to Dublin for work later this year. How will this affect your training?

I might have to change coaches again, which I’m a bit sad about because I really liked the Limerick training group (Leahy was in UL where she trained with the Hayley and Drew Harrison). I think I performed well and I loved the training. I was surrounded by the right people who were really lovely. I hope to find a group like that in Dublin and keep running well and performing better.

And what about next season?

I’d like another good indoor season. I was talking to Lauren Roy in Stockholm and she told me that I have the European standard in the 60m from last year. Which I didn’t know! So that’s kind of in my head now to try and get there, to improve my time. I think I could actually run faster. I ran 7.39 and I’d like to run at least 7.30, hopefully get another European standard, and actually go to the Europeans. I think it’s in Germany. That’d be my target.

And then next summer, there’s the Worlds again. So it’d be nice to continue making the Irish relays and definitely improve my time, because there’s more. I can definitely run faster over 100.

What is your current PB in the 100m? Are you close to bettering it?

I ran 11.67, which I was delighted with. But it was my first run of the season. It’s quite rare that you run a PB in the season opener. But I ran it, and I haven’t ran it since. The closest was 11.70 in Switzerland. So I definitely think there’s more in there. And I think I have a lot to learn as well. I’m still new to the sport and I’m a powerful kind of runner. I was doing a lot of gym work at the beginning of the year, before I ran my PB, and then afterwards usually people taper it off. So I did what other people do. I think that affected my running a little bit. I’m slightly weaker. So I’ve learned that maybe next year I shouldn’t do that. Then hopefully I’ll be running PB after PB, instead of just a one-off.

Onwards and upwards. Chat to you again soon.

Thanks Adam!


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