Four seasons since they last claimed an All-Ireland senior title, three since they graced the decider, the Kingdom finds itself in a state of some flux at the onset of another championship show that is again being headlined by Dublin’s slick collection of performers.
Far from impressive last summer, Kerry’s rate of experimentation stepped up in gear during the league and they open their Munster account with Clare this Sunday with more questions than answers over personnel and where they will feature.
It’s not ideal but Jack O’Shea insists there is no need to panic.
“No, I wouldn’t say panic,” said the six-time All-Star and seven-time All-Ireland winner. “Why should they panic? It’s a county with a great tradition and I have no doubt they will get it right.
“It is just a matter of getting the formula right and a few experienced players back probably to blend with those younger players. I was talking to Kieran Donaghy last week and he is really looking forward to it. He is back in the last five or six weeks.”
Given Dublin’s hegemony, the challenge facing Éamonn Fitzmaurice, his backroom staff and the team itself may well be the greatest any Kerry side has faced. O’Shea, who helped stare down the Dubs in the 1970s, doesn’t disagree.
“I think that’s fair enough, yeah. It is a big test now for Éamonn to come up with a formula for the next few games. You would hope that Kerry would improve. They had an indifferent type of league, they were very up and down. Good performances and poor performances. He has tried out a lot of players. I still think they have a bit to find. It might be a year or two off yet.
“They have talent but it is about manufacturing that together and getting it right. They are finding it hard because there is no continuity from the previous team to this team and they are finding it hard to fill that gap.”
He is confident that the Kerry on view in Fitzgerald Stadium against Clare this weekend will be a different variation on the sides that won three games and lost another four during the league when 37 players were sent across the whitewash.
David Clifford, Micheál Burns and Sean O’Shea attract most comment when it comes to the younger generation and how they fare but it may be how the less heralded ‘newbies’ cope, or where they settle, that informs Kerry’s season.