Marc Ó Sé wasn’t a happy man last Sunday afternoon.
It had been 25 years — the year Clare had Kerry’s number in the Munster final — since he’d last been absent for a championship game involving his county.
Now, there he was, keeping track from afar as the Banner were turning the screw.
Level at half-time in Cusack Park, the Kingdom were down a man after Donnchadh Walsh had been shown two yellow cards, their hosts returning to the field on level par and knowing they had the benefit of the breeze for the remaining 35 minutes.
“It was the first championship game since 1992 that I wasn’t able to go to because my small man was sick in the hospital,” said Ó Sé.
“I was like an antichrist listening to Radio Kerry but I was kind of happy because last year Kerry had no real test up through the All-Ireland quarter-final.
“This year they have had a test with Clare so I thought it was great from that point of view. A man down playing into the strong wind and the score the way it was: I thought this would be a massive test now for Kerry. As it turned out, it was.
“They won by six in the end but there are loads of areas for Eamonn Fitzmaurice to work on and that’s great for them. I’d say he’ll be quietly happy. Much-improved performance in that second half and areas to work on.”
The little lad, Tadhg, is doing fine again and it’s hard to argue with his dad’s assertion that Kerry will be better off for their own thorough examination ahead of the provincial decider against Cork that has since been switched from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to Killarney.
That change of venue doesn’t do Cork any favours. Ó Sé knows that but adds the rider that the Rebels should hardly lack for motivation having reached this juncture by virtue of two stuttering displays against Waterford and Tipperary to date.
It’s only two years since Cork almost claimed the Munster title with a shock defeat of their bitter rivals in Fitzgerald Stadium and, though Kerry can use that as sentry against complacency, Ó Sé admits this is a Cork side with plenty of question marks attached to it.
“I’m not down there so I can’t actually put my finger on it but it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t seem as if there’s any leadership coming from anywhere except the senior players. Paul Kerrigan, he’s really led, Donncha O’Connor as well, but they’re not going to be around forever,” said Ó Sé.
“I always feel if you could have two players coming through every year... the U21s, have they won 10 out of the last 14 (in Munster)? So they have to have the talent... They don’t seem to be getting the most out of them. They obviously aren’t and I don’t know why that is.
“But it has to come from the top down, from the manager down, and it doesn’t appear that’s happening. You’re looking at them and the way they’re setting up, they’re not even able to deal with blanket defences. It just doesn’t seem as if there’s any leadership coming at all.”
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