How do you guard against complacency amongst a bunch of 16 and 17-year olds when they’ve already dismantled this evening’s opposition, to the tune of 16 points, just a few weeks ago? Very easily, replies Kerry minor football manager James Costello.
In looking ahead to the first Cork-Kerry Munster minor final since 2016, Costello chooses not to focus on the 3-19 to 1-9 final scoreline from their Phase 2 meeting at Páirc Uí Rinn on May 7, but rather the 1-8 to 0-11 stalemate which arose, albeit briefly, when Cork sub Jack Cahalane found the Kerry net 24 seconds into the second half.
And with the wind favouring the home side for that second period, Kerry’s then 30-game unbeaten run at minor level appeared under genuine threat. Of course, what followed this goal was an unanswered burst of 3-7 from Kerry to see them back across the border with 16 points to spare.
“Everybody forgets that the game was level early in the second half and very much there for the taking,” begins Kerry minor boss Costello.“We are reminding the lads of that through the power of video.
You can be talking to these guys all you want, or you can throw it up on a big screen, show the clips quite easily, and ask them, how did you feel when the ball hit the back of the net early in the second-half.
"There is plenty of evidence there to throw at these guys that Saturday is going to be a different ball game.”
Does he believe his message is sinking in?
“I genuinely do. At U17s, anything can happen. They are more like hurling games in that you can rack up, as we did, 3-7 in 10 or 15 minutes. Cork are capable of racking up the same score so the game will take on its own life.”
That the Munster minor final remains the curtain-raiser to the senior decider is very much at odds with the breaking from tradition which has occurred in the other three provinces. Last week’s Connacht SFC final was preceded not by the minor equivalent but rather the junior
decider. A first-round Ulster U20 championship game between Down and Antrim is the curtain-raiser to the Cavan-Donegal clash at Clones, while the Joe McDonagh Cup final will again open proceedings at Croke Park on the afternoon of the Leinster SHC final.
Costello foresees minor fixtures being shunted further off-broadway if a second-tier All-Ireland SFC is introduced, with these games then providing the undercard on June, July and August Sundays.
“I think it is fantastic that this game is the curtain-raiser to the senior. In terms of developing minor players, there is that sense of occasion. The life skills that kids get from being involved in minor football is fantastic, just in terms of organising themselves, putting themselves under pressure. They are skills they can take with them for life.
“There is a small bit of payback, too, for the parents. There is a lot of talk now about development squads. But 80-90% of how a kid turns out is a) down to himself and b) his parents.
“James O’Donoghue is the only one who has talked sense on this. He says he learned everything in the back garden with his father. All you are doing with minor and development squads is polishing diamonds. All the hard work is done between six and 12. David Clifford was off the scale at 11 or 12 before anyone got hold of him.”
The Kingdom management have made one change for this evening’s game, Templenoe’s Colin Crowley coming into the Kingdom attack at the expense of Kevin Goulding.
D Burns (Na Gaeil); L Chester (Austin Stacks), A Dineen (Rathmore), K O’Sullivan (Cromane); E O’Sullivan (Legion), A Curran (Austin Stacks), S O’Brien Séan (Beaufort); J Linehan (Knocknagoshel), R Collins (Gneeveguilla); C Crowley (Templenoe), J O‘Connor (Beaufort, capt), G Hassett (Laune Rangers); D Geaney (Dingle), D Lynch (Listowel), E O’Shea (Fossa).
A Murphy (St Mary’s), K Goulding (Ballyduff), C Ó Beaglaoich (Gaeltacht), J Kerins (Dr Crokes), T Ó hAiniféin (Na Gaeil), R O’Grady (Legion), Dylan O’Callaghan (Firies), J Sheehan (Na Gaeil), T Sparling (Dr. Crokes).
A O’Brien (Mitchelstown); S Andrews (Shamrocks), D Linehan, (Castlemagner), D Peet (Clonakilty); T O’Donoghue (Carrignavar), N Lordan (Ballinora), J O’Shea (Urhan); J Lawton (Argideen Rangers), K Scannell (Carbery Rangers); H Murphy (Éire Óg), C Corbett (Clyda Rovers), A Walsh-Murphy (Valley Rovers); R O’Donovan (Barryroe), P Campbell (Nemo Rangers), J Cahalane (Castlehaven).
C O’Leary (Douglas), N Gough (Bishopstown), L Murphy (Cullen), C O’Sullivan (Kilshannig), S Aherne (Douglas), K O’Driscoll (Gabriel Rangers), A O’Hare (Douglas), M O’Neill (Buttevant), E Nash (Douglas).