Kerry's Killian has more than youth on his side

There is at least one man that belies his years on the Kerry team for this Sunday's GAA Football All-Ireland Senior final against Tyrone.

There is at least one man that belies his years on the Kerry team for this Sunday's GAA Football All-Ireland Senior final against Tyrone.

Young by name and young by nature. It is hard to believe that Killian Young is only 21 given that he has lit up the Kingdom side over the past three seasons.

You would be forgiven for thinking, given his age, that Young would only be a player just breaking the mould of a successful Kerry senior footballer, but that is certainly not the case.

In the past 12 months alone, the Renard clubman has picked up All-Ireland senior and Under 21 titles, a Munster Under-21 winner's medal and the Vodafone Young Player of the Year and Cadbury's Hero of the Future awards.

While if that timeframe is extended back to June 2006, a further All-Ireland senior title, a National League crown and a Munster senior championship winner's medal can be added to his accolades.

Oh and not to forget, he had the pleasure this year of captaining the Kerry Under-21s to the county's first All-Ireland triumph at the grade since 1998 - something which he is very proud of.

"It was a touching and proud moment to have been captain that day. With underage you're playing with the lads you've grown up with, your friends from up the way," Young said.

"Playing with the seniors is a different dimension, but there's a good buzz about it."

And that final win over Kildare last May in Thurles, where the Lilywhites were beaten by seven points was a sweet victory according to Young.

"It was a fantastic time. I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity for me to lift that cup.

"It helped Tommy Walsh and Dave Moran to get a senior chance. Tommy's made a name for himself, he's plenty for strength and he's a good player.

"Who knows if the Under-21 wasn't there, would they've got the chance at senior? It really helped them and gave them an opportunity to show themselves in a championship."

Looking at Sunday's opposition, Young knows Tyrone at close quarters having been tormented by some of their players at minor level.

2004 brought bittersweet memories for Young in his first campaign as a Kerry minor.

A Munster title win came his way and reigning All-Ireland champions Laois were disposed of en-route to the final, but in the decider Kerry fell to Tyrone by two points.

An agonising defeat according to the then left corner-back.

"It was a fierce disappointment," Young recalls.

"I'll never forget Raymond Mulgrew for Tyrone that day. He cut us open throughout the match and gave a fantastic performance.

"It's weird that he's only on the bench now for the seniors because he's a great player. It's something I'd be conscious of because it's a horrible thing to lose an All-Ireland final at any level. You just don't want that to happen ever again."

Underage level has been pretty kind to Young but so too the senior grade, and Kerry's second successive All-Ireland win last September was followed up with Young being chosen as the Young Player of the Year.

This year it has not been all plain sailing for Young and his Kerry team-mates, ridiculed after the Munster final loss to Cork.

It was pick up the pieces' time and following victories over Monaghan and Galway, again Cork stood in their way.

Young recalls his last gasp chance to win that eventually drawn All-Ireland semi-final against the Rebels.

"It was a good chance but I made a difficult angle for myself. I was very disappointed at the time."

However, every cloud has a silver-lining according to the determined defender.

"We'd have been in an All-Ireland final without Darragh O'Se! Another game meant there'd only be a three-week wait until the final. Maybe it was a good thing."

5pm on Sunday on the steps of the Hogan Stand will define if Kerry's strengthened panel have been lifted enough to retain the Sam Maguire Cup and start the three-in-a-row celebrations.

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