Kerry captain Eoin Brosnan is looking forward to this weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Cavan.
Croke Park in August is where everyone wants to be, after all.
“When you are mentioning things like Hogan Stand, Cusack Stand, that’s where players want to play, that’s where players want to perform.
“We had only one opportunity last year and didn’t perform on the day. We would like to think that we will be going up there well prepared and ready for the challenge and hopefully be able to put in a good performance.”
That outing last year against Donegal in in Dublin 3 was an unhappy one. “Last year against Donegal — it certainly asked questions. There can only be one ultimate winner every year.
“Donegal really, really were the team that were on a momentum last year. They beat Kerry, beat Mayo and they beat Cork up there, three big wins.
“Momentum means a lot, so if we can put in a good performance in the quarter-final, if we can get over the quarter-final with confidence, you are into a semi-final then in good shape really.”
A decade in the trenches gives the Killarney man perspective on the inter-county player’s workload.
Has that increased significantly?
“Without a doubt. Every team is difficult to beat. Managements are really setting themselves up as to, how are we going to be difficult to break down? How are we going to be difficult to beat? How can we get players behind the ball? Obviously during the last few years it has been well documented that cynical play has been brought into the game to stop teams. I would certainly be welcoming the black card coming in next year, which should really eradicate that because players will not be able to take advantage of cynicism, really.”
What will make the difference, then? Skill?
“You’d hope so, yes. There are very difficult systems to break down; you have only to look at the Donegal system two years ago where they really just parked the bus. But they realised it wasn’t enough to get over the line and they played exciting football again last year. Then in the Ulster final this year, they just did not seem to have the same momentum, it’s difficult to maintain that level of intensity.
“There are eight teams playing in the quarter-finals and every one of them is going to be fancying their chances to progress further in it, We are no different and we’d like to think that we have as good, if not better, forwards than a lot of the teams that are left.
“If it’s about changing our style, we’d like to think that we’ve enough work done to be able to change our style. Having said that, what happened in the second half against Cork certainly is a concern to everyone in the camp.”
Brosnan says access to manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is crucial within the camp.
“He’s very shrewd, one thing he’d always say is he’s open and if a player feels hard done by, he can pick up the phone to Eamonn and the management and they’ll tell him where they think he can improve. They’re very approachable in that regard.
“If he feels you’re slacking he’ll tell you, straight out, if he feels you’re pushing for a place in the first 15, or the first 26, he’ll tell you. There’s a fairness about him. In a new set-up there’s always a new approach and the players have bought into it. He expects high standards and in some sessions which have been going badly, those sessions have been halted and there have been effs thrown. Fellas know they’re there for work.”
For the captain himself, starting or not, it’s all about the team.
“Every fella wants to play but there are only 15 places. If fellas are playing well, it’s very difficult to pass them out. Things have gone well over the past month and I’ve put myself in contention for a start.
“Personally I’d be disappointed but you get over that quickly. I’ve lost my place for All-Ireland finals. I’ve been taken off in All-Ireland finals. You get a thick skin.”
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