The ebb and flow nature of Kerry’s league opener against Donegal was the ideal learning environment for the Kingdom’s emerging cast, according to Paul Murphy.

Come the close of business on Sunday afternoon at Fitzgerald Stadium, Eamonn Fitzmaurice had handed debuts to eight players.

From the 2014 All-Ireland minor winning side, Cormac Coffey and Micheál Burns started against Donegal, with Killian Spillane and Matthew Flaherty sprung from the bench.

Jason Foley, Brian Ó Seanacháin and Sean O’Shea featured in the 2015 minor side, David Clifford arrived on the scene a year later, with goalkeeper Shane Murphy the eldest of the newcomers.

Burns, Clifford, Spillane and O’Shea were among the scorers on Sunday, with O’Shea holding his nerve to slot a difficult free four minutes into second-half stoppages to tie up matters before Daithi Casey landed the winner.

“A game like that will bring them on leaps and bounds,” said Murphy.

“We started very well. For whatever reason, we took our foot off the gas. Maybe, you could put that down to the amount of debutants. After the initial burst at the start, you can hit a wall.

"They all did well overall. The win will give them good confidence going forward.” Important too, noted Murphy, to claim maximum points on home turf given Kerry’s league record in Killarney hasn’t been “hectic” in recent years.

“I thought we showed good character, particularly after their third goal. We were down four points at one stage. We got our second goal and once we got that, we were never too far away.

"We had a two-point lead then towards the end and it looked like we might hang on. They hit us with a sucker punch of a goal, but we had come back from the four points down so there was a good belief in the team that we could claw it back.”

Murphy concluded: “As the game went on, it was a necessity that you had to push up and chase. We probably tried to press them a bit higher up the field. It is really important to win your home games so we are happy with that.

“It was far from perfect, but there were a lot more positives than negatives.”


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