Peter Keane told reporters afterwards that he did not watch Saturday’s Dublin-Mayo semi-final (“there was no point, we were worrying about ourselves”), but he clearly heard some of the commentary which followed the Dubs’ comprehensive win as the Kerry manager was incredibly quick off the mark when it was put to him that nobody was giving the Kingdom a prayer on September 1.
“I left the dressing-room below and our goalkeeper Shane Ryan was on the phone to Gerard Murphy of Vincent Murphy’s Sports in Castleisland. His biggest problem was would he get two pairs of boots or three pairs of boots [for the final] because he’d have the boots worn out so much from kicking the ball out to Dublin. That is going to be the biggest problem,” quipped the Kerry manager before hightailing it back to the winning dressing room with a broad grin etched across his face.
No question but Keane and his backroom team will have plenty of tough calls to make with regard to what 15 march behind the Artane Band on September’s first Sunday such were the contributions from those introduced off the bench.
Jack Sherwood, sprung at half-time, was a real stabilising presence around the middle, while Tommy Walsh set up two points from the first three balls sent in his direction.
When asked by a local Kerry reporter if injury was the reason why team captain Gavin White was left off until half-time, Keane replied that it was not, before adding, “you’re telling everyone we won’t play the team announced so I might as well keep you entertained while I’m doing it”.
Keane continued: “I thought Tommy [Walsh] did well. I think he won every ball that went in and offloaded it. He was a bit unlucky with the shot he took.
“He did very well in Navan too when he came in.
“Our subs all responded and gave us something. And look, at the end of the day, that’s what you’re looking for from any team and any panel. That’s why you’re building a panel and that’s why you’re bringing fellas around with you — that when they get the opportunity they’ll add something to it. And you’re right, the two boys [Sherwood and Walsh] did very well but the other fellas did well too when they came in.”
Keane alluded to Kerry being more penetrative in the second period as a key factor in reeling in a four-point interval deficit.
“Our movement was much, much better in the second half. We squeezed them a small little bit further up the field, as well. And we were prepared to take them on, which we weren’t doing well in the first half.
“The accuracy was better in the second half than it was in the first half. I thought the lads really went about their business in the second half and they can be really proud of the work they did in the second half.
“There isn’t much point being involved if you’re not aspiring to be in and around the business end of the year so from that perspective we will look forward to the final and hopefully, enjoy the next three weeks.
Obviously, there is going to be a lot of talk in Dublin. I told you I didn’t see their semi-final. You are dealing with potentially the greatest team that has ever played.
To live with Jim Gavin’s men for the 70 minutes, Kerry cannot afford the first-half showing they had here. “I wouldn’t say that we were overwhelmed by them, or overawed by them. The first half was very tactical. I suppose we kicked a lot of wides in that first half which didn’t help our situation.
“If you get to an All-Ireland semi-final, you have to be playing one of the top four teams in the country. You’re going to have to expect that it will be a step up, which is what it was. Thankfully, we got out on the right side.”