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

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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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Killarney set for festival of football at Spa GAA’s Club 7s

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The third annual Killarney Club 7s tournament will be staged next weekend (June 1-2) at Spa GAA grounds with 36 clubs and over 500 players due to take part.

The hugely successful event has already become a popular fixture of the local sporting calendar with large crowds flocking to Tullig for two days of football and entertainment.

With Heineken as title sponsors and support also coming from the likes of Kellihers Toyota, Killarney Credit Union, Sheahan’s, GMIB.ie, Daly’s SuperValu and O’Callaghan Coaches, attendees will be treated to top quality food and drink on site, as well as a wide array of live music. Acclaimed group Chasing Abbey are the headline act on Saturday with Super Céilí rounding things off on Sunday night.

On the pitch, men’s and women’s teams from all over the country will compete for €10,000 in prize money.

Matches will be played across three excellent pitches, all of which can be easily viewed from all areas of the grounds.

The group stages will be played on Saturday with the knockout rounds scheduled for Sunday. Participating teams include Confey from Kildare, St Finbarr’s from Cork, Castleknock from Dublin and, all the way from Germany, Berlin GAA.

The hosts Spa won the 2023 men’s final in dramatic fashion when a last-gasp goal saw them beat Cuala in front of a boisterous crowd.

Free shuttle buses will be running to Killarney when the festivities wind down at 10pm each night.

For more information, visit killarneyclub7s.ie.

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Fierce rivals Celtic and Athletic set for tense Kerry District League final

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Killarney Celtic’s dominance of the local junior soccer scene appears to show no signs of letting up after the Derreen-based club added more silverware to their cabinet last Sunday – but their fiercest rivals are hoping to rip up the script in this weekend’s league final.

Last week the Hoops defeated Tralee Dynamos in the final of the Greyhound Bar KO Cup to make it six-in-a-row in the county’s most prestigious knockout competition.

Lee Downing was the hero on the day as he scored twice in the first half to put his side in the ascendency. In the end, that was enough to get the job done as the Killarney lads held on for a 2-0 win.

The Celts have the opportunity to complete another league and cup double this weekend, although they will be pushed all the way by a talented young Killarney Athletic outfit in the Premier A final.

The match will take place on Sunday at 4pm in Mounthawk Park in Tralee and Brendan Moloney’s Blues will be eager to bring their neighbours’ remarkable run to an abrupt end.

Athletic will unfortunately be without stalwart Shane Doolan who recently suffered an ACL injury.

Supporters of both clubs are urged to make the journey to Tralee and get behind their teams for one last time this season.

The Killarney Athletic B team play Iveragh United in the Tommy Healy Cup final replay at the same venue at 1pm.

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