Jack O'Connor: ‘We didn’t expect this big performance’

Jack O’Connor knew his minor charges were motoring well, but even he was taken aback by the complete nature of this final showing.

All six starting Kerry forwards, plus the two midfielders and two of the subs introduced were on the mark from open play; their opponents, meanwhile, were limited to a meagre six scores over the hour, five of the Tipperary starting forward unit held scoreless.

“We were hoping there was a big performance in the lads, but we didn’t expect as big as performance as that,” remarked the winning manager in his post-match assessment.

“It was really coming together for us over the last couple of weeks. I think our preparation showed. Tipperary’s preparation was obviously disrupted by the hurling. They only had two weeks because of the hurling, we had four.

“We went up to Fota last weekend and we played a trial game there and we really felt it came together for us there. We just trained once this week and we thought they were ready. In our wildest dreams we didn’t envisage that performance, though.

“At the start of the year the scribes down below were writing us off, but we like proving them wrong. We felt ourselves that they were such an honest bunch and they would improve as the year went on, and they improved out of all proportions. They really came together as a team.

“They interchanged positions, the half-backs were able to come out and the half forwards were able to come back.”

The performance of Kerry pair John Mark Foley and Mark O’Connor at midfield provided the foundation for this Kerry win, with O’Connor hailing the latter as “an incredible man”.

“We really went after their kick-outs. We thought in Killarney [in the Munster final] that they got a lot of bodies under their kick-outs and we felt that it was really important that that didn’t happen this time. They had 15 kick-outs in the first-half, we won 11 of them.

“The midfield was the basis for that. Mark is an incredible man. He hasn’t a whole pile done because of injury. He is a naturally fit athlete. The fact that he was able to start today, lead us out and show us that leadership was key.

“We reminded the players at half-time how they had let Tipperary back into it in the second-half of the Munster final. We said we were making a fresh start at half-time, irrespective of the score. We wanted to go and win the second-half and it was very rewarding that we did that. We dropped our standard a bit in the second-half in Killarney and we didn’t want that to happen again.

“It is just a dream come true to win it with a new bunch of players. They are a really nice bunch of lads, really easy to manage. They have a ferocious desire to play for Kerry. It is great for next year. There are five of that team underage for next year and eight or nine of the panel. We have been working away at underage and its finally coming together.”


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