Kerry manager Peter Keane is under pressure to shake up his management and backroom team ahead of the 2021 season.
Discussions between the County Board and Kingdom boss Keane are expected to continue in the run up to Christmas as the fallout from the dramatic Munster SFC semi-final loss to Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh continues.
Initial meetings have already taken place between management and members of the Board’s executive where the composition of Keane’s backroom team was discussed. The manager has also met separately with his backroom team.
Idle speculation of squad unrest and ultimatums from players is baseless, but they have met as a group since the loss in Cork and there is dissatisfaction about the coaching set-up since the poorly explained departure of Donie Buckley last March.
With the announcement of Buckley’s exit coming just before the country went into lockdown, there was little public discourse on the behind-the-scenes tensions that led to his departure, but his coaching work met with universal approval from the squad. Players believe the failure to replace Buckley and his skillset compromised their readiness for Championship this autumn.
Prior to the Cork game, Peter Keane was asked about the Buckley departure and said: "I suppose it is water under the bridge. What I can say is that we parted company, I don't get into individual discussions I have with either members of the management or the players. You have privileged discussions going on all of the time and that would be a breach of them. That is where it is."
Keane is heading into the final year of his three-year term at a time when Kerry are also on the lookout for a new Under-20 manager following the departure of John Sugrue. All-Ireland winners such as Declan O’Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Marc Ó Sé, Seamus Moynihan, Tomas Ó Sé, and senior selector Tommy Griffin have all been touted as possible candidates for the role. However, the Board executive may want to look at the role as part of a broader management pathway strategy in the Kingdom.
As things stand, there are precious few candidates ready to step up to the senior manager position without reverting to former All-Ireland winning bosses. Current selector Maurice Fitzgerald is probably the standout candidate in that regard.
County Board chairman Tim Murphy told a Board meeting this week that a full review of the football performance this year was underway. John Mitchels club delegate Pat McAuliffe told the meeting: “I am glad to hear (the chairman) say there will be a review of all the workings of the senior football team management committee upcoming.”
He went on: “I think that is important in view of what happened against Cork. I know we lost but the way we set up has to be looked at. It does not bode well for some of the young forwards we have in the county when we had two defensive players in the half-forward line and the best target player we have (Tommy Walsh) in the county was brought on as a corner back in the last few minutes. Things like that have to be reviewed and looked at. We can’t keep making the same mistakes.”
The chairman commented: “I will certainly bring to management the points you are making.”