It may be that the 30-year-old, who came off the bench to star against Longford last Saturday week, will see less on-field action as a result of their arrival in Croke Park this Saturday but he has no complaints.
“It’s very good. Two top-class players. You see it at club level with Alan. We all know what Aidan is like. It’s obviously a tough situation to come into in the middle of the summer but it’s management’s call. They’re two very likable characters, which is a very important thing.
“Whether they’re involved the next day or not is another thing. It’s going to be tough for any couple of lads that miss out. Look I think this is a cut-throat business, there’s very little room for sentiment. It’s just dog eat dog. I think there’s a good squad here, good cameraderie but at the end of the day, it’s every man for himself. Plus Fintan (Goold), Donncha (O’Connor) and Conor Dorman are back fit as well, so there’s a couple of lads that will be sweating on their place as well and that’s good for competition.”
Last Saturday week was Kelly’s first piece of action this season, having overcome serious hip injuries this past while. “I’ve had two hip operations there a couple years ago. It’s just the hard running and stuff. It’s hard to keep fit with it. It feels pretty good now the last couple of months. But the modern game is up and down, being able to do that kind of stuff, it’s about trying to get as fit as possible and seeing can I get in.
“The last couple of years I’ve had spells where I’ve been pretty fit. But again fit in training is one thing but when you’re not getting the championship games, it’s hard to throw a fella in.”
He smiled recalling his half-time introduction in Pearse Park: “This modern game doesn’t suit old fellas anymore. It’s nice to get on there because you’d be frustrated when you’re not getting on and you’re not starting. To get a bit of action in the thick of it is nice.”
For Cork, back-to-back qualifier wins have helped put behind them the stigma attached to relegation from Division 1 and losing to Tipperary. “This team has had a good few knocks. We’ve let ourselves down in big games the last couple of years. We’ve underperformed last year against Kildare and this year against Tipperary, Roscommon as well in the league.
“Consistency is a bit of an Achilles heel of ours. (Against Longford and Limerick) we were kind of middling, which was fine as long as you’re winning but from now on we have to up the gears a bit because the standard is going up.
“This team is new. It’s got a lot of setbacks and stuff. Things aren’t as set so you hope as the games go on, the teams gets more settled and confident in itself. A lot of young fellas have very little experience of winning championship games with Cork. These are going to be a huge experience for them.”