Kerry players ready for step to senior level

Kerry junior football boss Sean Moynihan insists several of his players are good enough to make the step-up to the Kingdom’s senior football ranks next season.

Ahead of this afternoon’s All-Ireland JFC final, the Kerry manager has backed at least four of his players to force their way into Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s thinking.

“There are definitely four or five of this team who could make the senior grade next season,” said Moynihan.

“These guys have aspirations of playing at that level as well and, under the guidance of the new senior management and the senior set-up, these guys could seriously progress.

“There is talent there and I wouldn’t be writing Kerry football off for a while yet because a lot of these guys are good enough to make the step up to senior level.”

With that in mind, today’s All-Ireland decider against Mayo is the perfect shop window for Kerry’s juniors to showcase their talents.

“There will be a new management team for the seniors, so, in that regard, it’s a fresh start and any player with ambitions to go far will be pushing hard,” Moynihan said.

“For these lads, this is an All-Ireland final and a chance to show what they are capable of on the big day. This is a game where they will be watched and it’s a great opportunity to show what they can do.”

En-route to the final, Kerry beat Tipperary (1-11 to 1-9), Cork (0-13 to 1-8) and Clare (3-18 to 1-7) in Munster before getting past Cavan (1-16 to 2-6) in the All-Ireland semi-final, and in each of these games Kerry had to come from behind, so Moynihan has demanded a fast start.

“We can’t keep giving sides a head start, that will catch up on us one day. We need to be at the pitch of the game right from the throw-in,” Moynihan said.

A conscious effort was made to bring down the average age of the Kerry junior team this year and, with 10 Kerry U21s involved, it’s a blend of youth and experience. “At the beginning we decided that we weren’t just going to go with an U21 team so we need some experience,” Moynihan said. “The likes of David O’Callaghan, Niall O’Mahony, Mike ‘Stam’ O’Donoghue, Kieran Quirke, Pat Corridan, Kevin O’Dwyer and Seán Óg Ó Ciardubhain are all seasoned campaigners bringing the young fellas on, like Conor Cox and James Walsh. It’s a great balance.

“The beauty is they have got on really well and they have all bought into what we are trying to achieve.”

As for the Mayo challenge today, Moynihan said: “It’s a 50-50 game, no matter what anyone else says. This is an All-Ireland final and you don’t win them easily. Mayo play a good brand of football, have strong midfielders, scoring forwards and a couple of them have been on the Mayo senior panel. We are under no illusions whatsoever.”

KERRY: S Óg Ó Ciardubháin; K Quirke, B O’Mahoney, K O’Dwyer; M Mangan, J Sherwood, J Walsh; A Garnett, A O’Sullivan; N O’Mahony, N Ó Sé, P O’Donoghue; D O’Callaghan, M O’Donoghue, C Cox.

MAYO: P Mannion; M Walsh, L O’Malley, B Leonard; M Forde, O Feeney, O Quinn; R McNamara, P Collins; P McManamon, E McManamon, S Cloherty; A McTigue, C Dempsey, A Egan.

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