Peter Keane admits that being self-employed allows him to meet the growing demands that come with managing at senior inter-county level however does not believe the role should ever become a full-time one.
Back in 2017, then Waterford hurling manager Derek McGrath, who took parental leave from his job as a secondary school teacher, was adamant that the demands of inter-county management were not sustainable with full-time employment.
Keane, who owns and runs a supermarket in Killorglin, is effectively his own boss and revealed that his wife, Siobhán, has taken on an increased workload around the store since he succeeded Éamonn Fitzmaurice as Kerry manager last October. The football position is time-consuming, of course, but Keane doesn’t agree that the hours put in merit inter-county management becoming a full-time job.
“It is busy. I would have been aware coming in that it was busy,” began Keane, on the challenges of inter-county management. Being self-employed helps me that way. I am lucky, my wife Siobhán is picking up a lot of slack.
"My kids, the three lads, they are all helping out as well. I have a good crew in the shop helping out, but equally, this Kerry management, we get on very well together. That eases the burden.
“The league was very busy because it was week-on-week. I managed to get away for a couple of days directly after the league [final], but then I went in watching club games.
There was one weekend I got four games in between Saturday and Sunday, so you are doing a bit of travelling. In some ways, you were nearly busier during that period of club activity than we had been throughout the league.
“The hours can add up, but can it ever be a full-time job, I don’t think so. I would look at a chairman’s job, the work Tim Murphy is doing is phenomenal. Should that be a full-time job? There are lots of roles in the GAA that you could make full-time jobs.”
No question but the role of county chairman is subject to regular scrutiny by club delegates and ordinary GAA members, but this pales in comparison to the spotlight forever peering down on the Kerry football manager of the day. Keane doesn’t need telling the pressure this brings but doesn’t get any sense that he is now public property.
“I don’t really. People know their football in Kerry, they love their football in Kerry. They like having the craic about it and talking about it. Am I any different to them? I’m not.
“In SuperValu in Killorglin, where I am working day after day, there are people coming in. You are in Kerry, and so people do talk football all the time. It’s part of our culture.”
Last year’s 17-point provincial final thumping of Cork, which followed their 22-point dismissal of Clare in the semi-final, was the latest indicator of the significant gap which exists between Kerry and Munster’s chasing pack. Only once this decade has a Kerry team come off second best in a provincial championship fixture - and that was seven years ago. Whatever intrigue the Munster SFC once held, it’s long evaporated.
Far more compelling now is the constant jostling among Clare, Cork, and Tipperary for the right to be viewed as second best in the province.
“The Clare fixture is my first championship game as a senior manager so I’m looking forward to it. It is probably going to be a first championship game for some of our lads, so they’re also looking forward to it.
“A few more of them only played their first championship game this time last year so I’m pretty certain they are going to be excited about it. Whether a provincial championship works or doesn’t work is irrelevant. It is what it is and you have got to go out and play it.
“We’re looking at the Clare game as the most important thing in front of us because it is new, we are new, we have a lot of younger players in there. We have a lot of guys who made their debuts last year and sometimes, you get guys who play very, very well in their first year and then may fall off a small bit in their second year, and bounce back in their third or fourth year. You’d often see that at club level and we are conscious of that.
“Looking in from the outside, this is one where they’d say Clare only beat Waterford by a point, sure where are they going. We’re not looking at it that way because that is when you get caught. We do not want to get into a dogfight against Clare.”