New manager Peter Keane said yesterday that if Kerry suffer any further player injuries or withdrawals in advance of Sunday week’s league opener against Tyrone, he might be forced to look up to the press box to fill out the bench.
Keane is likely to be without at least 10 of his extended pre-season training squad of 40 players which may force his hand with some of the freshman talents promoted from the U20 and successful minor squads for 2019.
“You are hopeful that we don’t pick up any more knocks at this stage or we might be going back to the old story about the journalist getting a sub’s jersey. Injuries are going to be the big thing initially, we have three games in 13 days against Tyrone, Cavan, and Dublin. That’s a big ask.”
Complicating matters is the number of Sigerson Cup-eligible players Keane has promoted into the senior squad — 13 or 14 at the last count. “I was aware of that from the start, and we broadened the panel because of it. We also have a lot of young lads. Would I have had the intention of starting them in the league straight away? Maybe not, but you may have to fire them in.”
Injuries will rule out Jason Foley, David Clifford, Kevin McCarthy, Peter Crowley, and possibly Mark Griffin in the short term, while David Moran only returns from his honeymoon next weekend.
The five Dr Crokes members of the panel are involved in some of the gym programmes but from a playing perspective, focused on their club’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final on February 16. Fossa starlet Clifford might be an option for the last three league games, but he will not be rushed back from a shoulder procedure.
“He will be ready when he is ready.”
Keane reckons it would be nice, though not paramount, to remain in Division One after his first competitive campaign in charge of the Kingdom, but believes that the league, generally speaking, is for learning and putting some of the structures in place.
The new Kerry boss has rekindled the inter-county ambitions of the likes of Tommy Walsh and Jonathan Lyne and believes 2009 All-Ireland winner Walsh still has a role to play with Kerry a decade later.
“I would think he is up for consideration for the Tyrone game. From what I see in the year just gone, I felt he had something to offer. I think he is in good shape now, and we think there is something worthwhile looking at. When you look at the squad now after four significant retirements, that’s a huge loss of experience — you are talking about multiple All-Ireland winners leaving the group. So any bit of experience is going to be a good thing.”
Keane is learning as he goes too, he accepts. On the issue of whether he was wrong not to inform some senior Kerry players they would not be involved in the new set-up, the new manager stated: “Maybe it could have been handled better, but we were picking a new group. From our perspective we were a new management coming in and we notified the new Kerry panel. I wouldn’t say (those players) didn’t merit (contact), but they hadn’t been my players.
“If I had a panel at the end of a campaign and there was someone who I didn’t see as part of the plan next year, I would directly contact him myself. The big factor was that you had a new management in place. But I think the county board handled it well when they said it was something to be looked at (in the future).” Keane revealed that a role for his brother, the ex-St Finbarr’s manager Ray Keane, was in the offing.
Kerry manager Peter Keane insists he does not know the identity of the three footballers at the centre of a Garda probe into an alleged vicious assault on a man in the county last year.
The three men have all worn the Kerry jersey at different grades, according to a report on the controversy in this week’s Kerry’s Eye newspaper.
Quizzed yesterday whether the episode would affect him in any way as Kerry senior manager, Keane responded: “Why should it (affect me)? I don’t see it being an issue for me if that’s the question you are asking.”
When it was pointed out that it might affect him if the three players in question were part of his Kerry senior plans, he added: “I didn’t see any names in the paper yesterday, (so) how do you know they are part of our plans? Sure, I don’t know who they are.”
Again, it was pointed out that if they were already part of Kerry’s plans, he would know, but Keane reiterated: “I didn’t see any names so I don’t know, unless you (the reporter) know more than I do. I don’t know who they are so… If they were on my panel of course it would be an issue, but I am unaware of who these players are so…
“Does that answer your question?”
Extended Kerry panel:
Shane Murphy (Dr Crokes), Brian Kelly (Legion), Shane Ryan (Rathmore); Mark Griffin (St Michael’s Foilmore), Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), Shane Enright (Tarbert), Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers), Graham Sullivan (Dromid), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Gavin Crowley (Templenoe), Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle), Tom ‘Leo’ O’Sullivan (Dingle), Briain O Beaglaoich (Gaeltacht), Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Killian Young (Renard), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Gavin White (Dr Crokes), Michael Potts (Dr Crokes), Rob Wharton (Renard); Jack Barry (Na Gaeil), David Moran (Kerins O’Rahilly’s), Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil), Mark Ryan (Rathmore); Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare), Sean O’Shea (Kenmare), Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin), Gavin O’Brien (Kerins O’Rahillys), Killian Spillane (Templenoe), Adrian Spillane (Templenoe), Jonathan Lyne (Legion), David Clifford (Fossa), Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahillys), Tomás Ó Sé (Gaeltacht), Conor Geaney (Dingle), Paul Geaney (Dingle), James O’Donoghue (Legion), Dara Moynihan (Spa), Mikey Geaney(Dingle), Michael Burns (Dr Crokes), David Shaw (Dr Crokes).