Scanlon: Kingdom won’t be distracted

Seamus Scanlon insists Kerry are too experienced to be distracted from their mission of beating Tyrone in Omagh this Sunday.

The Currow midfielder retired at the end of last season and has been impressed by the performances of Johnny Buckley in the middle this spring.

Buckley’s ascendance comes at a difficult time for Kerry with them needing a win to keep their hopes alive of retaining their Division 1 status.

Given the rivalry between the counties, Scanlon has no doubt that it’s an incentive for Tyrone to relegate Kerry even though they have already secured their semi-final spot.

However, he doesn’t anticipate the visitors will become embroiled in incidents similar to the ones that have deteriorated the relationship between the counties.

The fall-outs from the Derrytresk-Dromid Pearses game and last July’s qualifier in Killarney were compounded by the Spitgate controversy arising from the All-Ireland intermediate club final between Cookstown and Finuge.

“I don’t think they’re going to let anything get to them,” said Scanlon. “Them boys are going there to do a job and won’t get stuck in any other stuff.

“They’re there to get the two points, end of story, and a lot of them have been around long enough to know how to do it. Kerry have won games there before and that’s the only intention they have going there.

“It’s a do-or-die game for them but they’re moving in the right direction. They’ve probably got their heads down now after the training camp in Portugal. Those fellas know what to do.”

Scanlon says Healy Park won’t hold any fear for Kerry. He was on the team that won there in 2009 when Colm Cooper scored two goals in a 2-10 to 0-13 victory.

He was also in midfield a year later when they were denied an away Division 1 win by a last gasp Colm Cavanagh punched goal.

“That game, we should have closed it out,” says Scanlon, “and we were hanging on at the death. It was a fluky goal that went in at the end.”

That’s not to say the venue is not an intimidating place. “The crowd are on top of you and it’s an hostile enough place to go. When you’re out on the field you’re out on your own.”

Scanlon has been at Kerry’s home games and caught others on TV. He agrees Buckley’s form has been one of the few success stories from their league campaign.

“He’s turning into a great footballer. He’s getting physically strong and I think the run of Crokes games after the Donegal semi last year has helped bring him on a lot. He’s stepping up to the mark.”

A drop to Division 2 would be a blow, Scanlon acknowledges, but he is glad to have seen Kerry’s up-and-coming players get a worthwhile run in the league.

“It would be a setback,” he accepts. “They want to keep the status because it guarantees more competitive games. It’s just a pity it has come down to one game for them to win.

“It takes awhile for younger players to mix with the older ones and it’s probably more difficult in Kerry because the older players have achieved a good bit.

“Gooch and Paul (Galvin) came in the last day, Bryan Sheehan is on the way back as is David Moran. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

“They’ve shown in the last one or two performances that they’re beginning to step it up.”

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