Fitness and morale the cornerstones of Kerry victory

The team spirit within the Kerry panel at the moment is unlike anything David Moran has experienced during his 14 seasons in green and gold
Fitness and morale the cornerstones of Kerry victory

TOTAL COMMITMENT: Gavin White dives full-length to claim possession during Kerry’s defeat of Cork in Sunday’s Munster SFC final at Fitzgerald Stadium. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

The team spirit within the Kerry panel at the moment is unlike anything David Moran has experienced during his 14 seasons in green and gold.

The long-serving Kerry midfielder hailed the squad ethos of Peter Keane’s group, citing the panel’s close-knit nature as a factor in the county’s seven-game unbeaten run.

“The team spirit in the squad, I’m not sure I’ve been part of a squad with such a squad ethos,” said the 33-year-old.

“Some fellas come in, some start. I’ve got taken off in plenty of games this year and I wasn’t giving out. Jack [Barry] came off today, he could have stayed on. I think the team is bigger than that at the moment.

“It’s just a close-knit squad. Winning helps too. Fellas just seem to get on. I’m not sure exactly where the [team spirit] is coming from, but it’s good so far.”

Paying tribute to first-team newcomers Paudie Clifford and Mike Breen — the former picking up man of the match here — Moran said the pair have been “phenomenal” thus far.

“They’ve shown massive leadership. They’ve been very calm. But the reality is, they’re going to be judged from here on in.”

The two-time All-Ireland winner expressed satisfaction with how Kerry raised their performance after a first-quarter effort that simply didn’t reach the standards they’ve set for themselves.

“We’d be very happy with three-quarters of it. Obviously, the first quarter, we were very disappointed.

“We knew at the first water break things hadn’t gone to plan. We came knowing that we’d like to start how we finished, but it didn’t happen. Thankfully, we got there in the end. I suppose you can’t beat winning and that’s what we’ve been doing so far. We’re into a semi-final now and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Looking ahead to their All-Ireland semi-final in three weeks’ time — on the weekend of August 14/15 — Moran said he would much prefer a shorter lead-in to their penultimate round clash against the winners of the Tyrone-Monaghan Ulster final.

“Two weeks is absolutely ideal. You’re spending half a week recovering and then you’re flying again for two or three sessions, it’s perfect timing.

“Three weeks, it’s longer. If I had a choice, I’d pick two weeks. That’s what we had coming into the last two games.”

Manager Peter Keane, meanwhile, revealed his confidence that Kerry’s fitness would see them wear down a Cork team that had begun in determined fashion.

“We were a bit sloppy in the first quarter. We’d a few turnovers and the turnovers cost us. Our tackling was poor, we were off the pace, and we needed to get to the pace.

“One of the things we’ve done this year, we’ve pushed our fitness a lot this year.

“We were confident that our fitness would win out, that we’d wear that game down as it went on,” said the Kingdom boss. “It’s great to win. Winning the Munster championship in a year when you’ve no safety net, it allows you to go on to an All-Ireland semi-final and that’s what we’re looking forward to now.”

No more than Moran, Keane too touched on the “huge sense of unity” within his camp.

“There’s a huge work ethic in the team. Maybe that work ethic was a little off the pace early on in that first quarter.

“It’s something that when I got in in 2019, it’s something we were working towards. We have a great group of people, we’ve a great backroom, and everybody is here and they’re all working very hard.”

Keane said Diarmuid O’Connor’s first-half substitution was injury-enforced, while also remarking that the absent Dara Moynihan wasn’t ready for involvement here.

“We are working on him,” he said of the latter.

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