Kerry manager Peter Keane: Not happy to lose, but 'terribly proud of the lads'

Kerry manager Peter Keane: Not happy to lose, but 'terribly proud of the lads'

Disappointment, yes, but pride too.

Kerry manager Peter Keane thrice brought a young team to Croke Park this year with silverware at stake and although they left empty-handed on each occasion, there was a whole pile of learning along the way. Learning which he hopes will stand to his players in the seasons ahead.

From the 15 which began yesterday evening’s All-Ireland final replay, goalkeeper Shane Ryan, Gavin Crowley, Diarmuid O’Connor, and Adrian Spillane all made their championship debuts this year, no more than second-half replacements Killian Spillane and Dara Moynihan.

As for Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan, and David Clifford, this final reverse represented just a 12th championship appearance in the green and gold, 13th in the case of Gavin White and Sean O’Shea.

"If you want to put a positive spin on it, you're thinking that [we’re well placed for next year], but at the end of the day, you've lost an All-Ireland final. You go away, you lick your wounds, gather yourself and come at it again next year,” said Kerry manager Keane.

“You're not too worried about going forward today. You're just disappointed with today's result and you worry about [going forward] in the next few weeks and months.”

Looking back as opposed to looking ahead, Keane was immensely proud of the road his charges had travelled to reach the county’s first All-Ireland final since 2015 and force Dublin into a second day out.

“What I would say is that even today I would be terribly, terribly proud of the lads. They fought with their shoes on until the end and literally had to be carried out of there.

“Throughout the year they've given me the same and of course it's disappointing that we lost the league final here and we've lost an All-Ireland final here. But look, that happens. There was a lot of learning.

“It was a year that even looking into the championship, what were the top six teams in the championship? Dublin, we drew with; Donegal, we drew with; Tyrone, we beat. Ourselves. Cork we had beaten in the Munster championship; Mayo we'd beaten in Killarney.

"So there was certainly no easy route to this [final] for a young team and you'd hope they learn from that. By and large, we're reasonably happy but you're not happy to lose an All-Ireland final.”

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