New rules put more pressure on goalkeepers, reckons Kealy

The Offaly banter is nothing new to Brendan Kealy — he’s been hearing it for years at this stage.

New rules put more pressure on goalkeepers, reckons Kealy

His mother Bridget has long been domiciled in Killarney but she hails from Ballycumber, so 1982 and all that is old hat for the former Kerry goalkeeper.

The six-hour return trips to training in Kilcormac for Offaly’s new goalkeeping coach are nothing new either.

“We have a lot of family there. I have a base there when I need it, which is handy. The journey I’ve been doing most of my life anyway to see family. It’s not as bad as it seems.”

There’s a longer drive tomorrow as Offaly travel to Celtic Park as both Derry and themselves look for their first points in Division 3.

It’s been an early struggle for Kealy’s fellow Kerryman Stephen Wallace but Kealy preaches positivity.

He took the decision to end his own inter-county career last July having played the majority of the league only for Brian Kelly to be selected for the championship.

It’s not a time he is interested in revisiting as much as pulling on the green and gold was an honour.

Helping the likes of Offaly’s No1 Alan Mulhall is his priority now even if he had to weigh up several things — family life, work, extra business pursuits, Kilcummin — before agreeing to come on board with Wallace.

Coaching would always have appealed to him but particularly goalkeeping as the stock of the position continues to rise in the game.

“Every team’s tactic is based on what they do with the possession of the ball. Where do you get possession most of the time? From the goalkeeper.

“In my mind, the goalkeeper has to be the best player on the pitch.

“They have to be able to do everything. They have to be comfortable with the ball in hand, confidence coming out to provide an extra link and obviously the kick-out is huge. This new rule change, kicking the ball past the 21 (yard line), has changed things again, which has put more pressure on the goalkeeper, if you like, or more emphasis if you want to look at it another way.

“One of the reasons I initially preferred soccer was the goalkeeper’s role was so valuable to his team. They controlled basically everything in a game. It’s becoming now like that in Gaelic football. Every goalkeeper will agree that there’s nothing worse than standing on the line and seeing the ball sail over your head all day and then just pumping the ball out 60 yards. It’s great to have more ownership of the game, I suppose.”

Having Diarmuid Murphy as a goalkeeping coach for so many years provided impeccable counsel to Kealy. He’s hoping to pass on the same now in Offaly with his own twist. “I got on well with Diarmuid. You couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Just chatting to him was great. In terms of approaching games and the mental side of it, he was brilliant. I’d always have been researching stuff myself. It’s great that I’m still playing because I can be doing stuff with the lads on the training pitch. I’m not flogging stuff that I’m not sure will work. I also have my soccer background (with Killarney Athletic) and would have come across a lot in that. It’s a mixture of everything and putting my own slant on it.”

The psychology of goalkeeping obviously piques his interest and how essential it is to be prepared for anything on the field as well as off it, the praise and the pan.

“Who stands out most on the pitch? It’s the fella wearing the different colour jersey and what he does is going to be pronounced whether it’s good or bad. It’s the nature of the position; you’re the hero one day, the villain the next and there’s no hiding place there. The old cliché that you could catch a ball 19 out of 20 times and be remembered for the one mistake is true. You sign up to it and you know that when you sign up to it.

“Especially with the kick-out now, if it’s seen that a team hasn’t done well there it obviously will have a bearing on why a team has lost but people will refuse to look at why the kick-out was lost or what happened after it was lost. A bit of perspective would go a long way with it.”

Offaly are no Kerry, Division 3 is a world away from Division 1 and sitting in the dug-out now sure ain’t tending goals for the Kingdom but Kealy is gleaning enjoyment from the experience.

“You’re not going to match the feeling of running out in front of 82,000 people. It’s early doors but there’s a kick from the coaching. You might be trying something different with the lads and you see it coming off and you see the enjoyment and you see the improvement so there’s definitely a buzz.

“Then you see them taking that to the training pitch and it could be something small like a different body movement that they make or a pass they give and there’s the satisfaction for you.

“I’m still playing and getting the best of both worlds.”

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