‘You grow up wanting to play for Kerry, not training for Kerry’

The Super 8 series will enter its third and final trial year in 2020 shrouded in doubt, but Kerry forward Stephen O’Brien is full of praise for the increased number of games.

‘You grow up wanting to play for Kerry, not training                    for Kerry’

The Super 8 series will enter its third and final trial year in 2020 shrouded in doubt, but Kerry forward Stephen O’Brien is full of praise for the increased number of games.

The Kingdom will play their fifth game of the Championship against Meath in Navan on Saturday week — the same number of SFC matches they played in winning the 2007 All-Ireland title and reaching the 2011 final.

“Games are brilliant and that’s what the feedback from all the surveys done with players said — we want less training and more games so it gives you great context for training and improving,” states O’Brien.

“You grow up wanting to play for Kerry, not training for Kerry.”

O’Brien hasn’t played in Páirc Tailteann before and there is an attraction in the novelty of going to a venue where Kerry haven’t featured since their Division 1 clash with Meath in November 1996.

“We’ve never played there. We’re looking forward to that challenge. It’s the brilliant thing about the Super 8s to play these big games in local venues.”

Going there with three points from two games knowing a point against a Meath team who have nothing tangible to play for is

sure

an improvement on last year, when they were relying on Galway to do them a favour to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals.

“Last year it was out of our hands in the last round of the Super 8s (against Kildare in Killarney) and a win meant nothing, so it’s a reverse of this year and that’s what we wanted. Everyone was disappointed with the way last year ended up, so that’s it. We have had a tough group with three top teams, so if we come through, it’ll be brilliant.”

Reviewing Sunday’s draw with Donegal, not ending Kerry’s five-game run without a win in Croke Park was the one thing that upset O’Brien. “We still haven’t won here for a while, we’ve lost our last few games, so it was disappointing not to get the victory,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien’s rich vein of form continued, at least — “I’m just enjoying the football and I’m maturing physically and working hard” — as much as he conceded the penalty while also suffering a nasty gash to his mouth. “Yeah, it was a double-whammy alright to get busted and they scoring the penalty. I don’t know, I thought I stood my ground as he was coming at me, but sure look, he had the momentum so it was advantage to the attacking player.”

O’Brien, 28, is now among the elder statesmen but knows the leadership qualities of players like his Kenmare Shamrocks club-mate Seán O’Shea: “In fairness to the likes of Seánie and David Clifford, they have stepped up to the plate and they are nearly the team leaders now.

“It’s good also that Killian Spillane came onto the team and he had a brilliant debut. He’s a local man and we’ve been monitoring his progress for a while, so it’s great to see him doing it on this stage.”

Quirke’s football podcast: Shane Lowry in Croke Park. Team selection farces. Do Tyrone need to be so defensive?

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.