100 days done, but work’s just starting for Keane

He’s just passed his first 100 days in office, but for new Kerry manager Peter Keane, the real work is only beginning.

His coach Donie Buckley returned last week from a winter abroad, skilling up; new goalkeeping coach Brendan Kealy has joined the backroom team; and the county’s new head of athletic development, Jason McGahan, is getting his feet under the table and his programmes in place from his new base at the GAA Centre of Excellence in Currans.

There are two new physios, promoted from the minor set-up, and a new logistics man in Colm Whelan. And that’s before the familiarisation process between player and management begins.

It’s all quite head-spinning for the manager, who deadpans that they’ve been “plodding along” quietly, without a McGrath Cup to road test any strategies or shapes.

Consequently, it’s a big ask for Keane’s Kerry to go from nought-to-sixty at 2pm on Sunday against a Tyrone side with a full McKenna Cup campaign behind them.

And no, Keane’s not getting excuses in early.

“I don’t really get hung up on a target (for the Division 1 campaign), but we want to perform with a bit of heart, for starters. I would hope we would play a nice, attacking, quick game, but whether we can get away with that I don’t know.

You play with whatever is there and available to us. We couldn’t really play in the McGrath Cup with it starting in December.

"We were faced with a decision to go chasing games or plan for the year ahead. We’ve been getting to know each other, putting in a bit of groundwork, mainly in the gym,” Keane explained.

At least he’s not dealing with the Kerry captaincy, which is in the gift of Dr Crokes, who will announce their choice once their All-Ireland club campaign is done. In the meantime, Keane said management will decide the captaincy on a game-by-game basis.

The difference in tempo between inter-county minor and senior duties is night and day, he agrees.

“The phone is busy all the time. There’s a lot more people coming up to you, but if I thought that was annoying, I’d be in a right pickle.

"If I think it’s stressful in January, I’m sure it will get a lot more as the year goes on. You have to embrace that, because if you don’t, you’re sunk.”

Kerry won’t have use of the Dr Crokes players — five of them in total — for a while yet and, though they’ve been in with the group, their football has been completely club- focused.

That, and other absentees, will demand precise load-balancing on those who are in the squad, with three games in 13 days coming up: Home to Tyrone this Sunday, away to Cavan, and then a Saturday night treat under lights at home to Dublin in Tralee.

“Tyrone, Dublin and Galway feature in our first four games, but the big thing is they will inform where we are at ourselves. Those fixtures mean you find that stuff out pretty quickly and, of course, it’s a challenge.

“The league is going to be a learning curve for us. Hopefully, we will get support for those home games. I’d love to think the Kerry supporters will come out and back us,” said Keane.

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