Barry John Keane insists Kerry are showing more respect to referees.
Last month Jack O’Connor took his players to task about their behaviour towards match officials and Keane believes the attitude shown to whistle blowers is a two-way street.
“Mostly, we try and keep the mouth shut,” he said after Sunday’s Allianz Football League victory over Down. “If the ref gives a free, just get on with it. Refs are getting a bit of stick lately but if you give the referee respect and he’ll give respect back. That’s all you need to do.”
Ironically, Keane picked up an eight-week ban in Kerry’s first league game against Cork last season. With that, his ambition to stake a claim for a permanent starting place come the summer was derailed. So lesson learned? “I’m trying to keep the cool and give it a go this year.”
He’s certainly doing that, with excellent performances against Dublin and Down either side of a not-so stellar game in the defeat to Armagh. The display in Tralee had seen him initially dropped for Sunday’s trip to Newry but he was restored when Darran O’Sullivan picked up a knock in training. With four points from play, three against a strong first-half wind, he grabbed his opportunity.
“You’d always be disappointed not to be on the team but the standard inside is unbelievable. If you’re going bad, there’s another fella who’s going to be miles ahead of you. You’ve to keep that going.”
The 21-year-old is enthused by having players of a similar age playing alongside him.
“Pa Curtin and Brian McGuire are flying, in fairness. I’m still the young fella but you can see in training that they’re giving it their all. There are four of us who are the same age  and we’ve played with each other at minor and U21 level and know each other well. In fairness, the older lads are keeping us going and if the heads go down or things go bad in training they’ll always be there to tell you to keep going.”
Kerry’s captain on Sunday, Kieran Donaghy, acknowledged the contributions of his younger team-mates in the win, which saw Kerry join Mayo at the top of the Division 1 table. Son of Tyrone man Oliver, Donaghy has always got a kick out of playing Ulster teams such as Down but knows how much Kerry are reminded about losing to teams from the northern province.
“People like to say it when you lose but it doesn’t come up very often when we win but to hold them to eight points has to be good.”
It certainly went some way to compensating for the home defeat to Armagh when Kerry were guilty of complacency.
“We possibly trained too hard coming into the Armagh game,” suggested Donaghy, “and our attitude wasn’t spot on and where we needed to be.”
His direct marker Dan Gordon may have picked off a couple of points but Donaghy enjoyed his new position at wing-forward, taking the left berth in the first half and then the right. “It’s enjoyable. A lot of easy ball and nofellas pulling and dragging out of you,” he said.
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