KERRY captain Darran O’Sullivan has praised the county’s strength in depth which allowed the Kingdom claim the Division One NFL title while experimenting throughout the campaign.
Jack O’Connor made six substitutions in all eight of Kerry’s ties and yet the Munster side still managed to go through the entire campaign unbeaten.
Darragh Ó Sé, Tadhg Kennelly, Bryan Sheehan, David Moran, Sean O’Sullivan and Aidan O’Shea formed the second wave on Sunday. All six would be automatic starters in all but a few senior county sides.
“People are on about the players we had on the bench but you also have to look at fellas who weren’t even on the panel; that shows how strong the squad is,” said O’Sullivan who had injured trio Paul Galvin, Marc Ó Sé and Seamus Scanlon in mind.
“That keeps training interesting and it will be good over the next few weeks because it is all about getting onto the 30-man panel for the Championship game and then, hopefully, the first 15.”
Galvin will more than likely return to claim the number 10 jersey, which Donncha Walsh wore at the weekend, in time for the Munster campaign but the other wing-forward position appears to be up for grabs.
O’Sullivan didn’t make much of an impression in the role on Sunday but the game will always hold a special place in his affections after he strode up the Hogan Stand steps to accept the trophy from Christy Cooney.
“It was great. I’m just delighted to be getting the opportunity to lead Kerry out and the fact that I got to lift the trophy is an added bonus and obviously something that I will remember for a long time.
“The game was a bit stop-start but going into it we were delighted we had got there because we knew that there would be one very hard game before the Cork game and that’s what we were looking for.”
The league itself will be inconsequential come the summer but the victory was nevertheless important for Kerry in the sense that it ended last season’s run of three final defeats in succession.
“It was very important to win. It is bad enough losing three finals in a row, nobody wants to lose four.
“Last year is last year, but obviously if we had lost it might start playing on the back of fellas minds saying, ‘Jaysus, we are after losing four finals in a row’ so it was nice to get back into Croke Park and get back to winning ways.
“It was good to get the game in Croke Park too. It makes more of an occasion of it. Any football team wants to play there because it is a nice open field and the pitch is in great condition. It allows for a better standard of football.”
So far so very good then.
Next in the diary is, no disrespect to Waterford, probably going to be a Munster semi-final against Cork — who claimed their own league title in impressive fashion on Sunday — on June 7.
“We have been keeping a close eye on Cork as well, They have looked impressive this year, so we know it will be a tough game. Their form has been really good.”
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