He knows why you’re here as much as you do so let’s spare ourselves the formalities. Just how did Paul Geaney with 1-4 from play to his name feel being substituted last Sunday week?
“I suppose I had a bit more to contribute. I think I said it after the Munster final I was in the best shape I had been ever in a Kerry jersey this year. I was able for 80 minutes if so called or whatever happened, I was ready for that.
“The only surprise in it was that it was Marc (Ó Sé) that came on. I was expecting to see a back running off and I was thinking, ‘Why isn’t a back going off here?’
“I was looking at Aidan O’Mahony because he (Fitzmaurice) went over to Aidan O’Mahony and I was thinking, ‘Is O’Mahony going the long way around here in the Cusack (Stand) or what’s the story?’
“I realised then a couple of seconds later it was actually someone else and I was looking over and nobody was moving so I said, ‘It must be me’. But none of the boys around me were saying it was me either so it was kind of confusing at the time. That was the only thing that was confusing me. I was taken off, it happens. I didn’t really think about it that much until after the game.”
Éamonn Fitzmaurice on Wednesday admitted he may have made a mistake in benching Geaney, who he referred to as the best forward in the country.
“Éamonn, if it’s a mistake he feels he made… many’s a game I made mistakes,” shrugs Geaney.
“Sometimes, you admit them. We all make mistakes. If Éamonn feels that he wants to state that he made a mistake, fair play – it takes a man to admit a mistake. I don’t think he needed to. He gave me the explanation that it was a tactical change and that was enough for me. We all row in behind Éamonn. His decisions are his decisions. He’s the manager for a reason.”
Geaney felt if he was at the top of his game, Kerry stood a great chance. That he was so good made the experience so bittersweet. “It makes it tougher again because before the game I was saying, ‘If I play extremely well, I couldn’t see how we were going to lose’. Because we had so many other good forwards on there if I was doing my bit then everyone was going to do enough after to get over the line. But that’s not the way sport works. There are 15 fellas in other jerseys pulling the other way and they pulled enough to pull them over the line in the end.
“Regardless of what’s written about the game now, it was a game that went down to a break of a ball and one call. If we got one call it maybe could have changed the momentum again, and momentum in sport is a tough one.”
Geaney was also taken off against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final after 50 minutes despite scoring two points.
“I thought I was playing well as well last year. I thought I was playing fairly well for what I had done up to that stage. I had got two points in the first-half, a couple of assists as well. It was very early in the game and I thought I had definitely way more to give that day. When it’s so premature like that, it hurts more because you know there’s loads there to give. When it’s towards the last couple of minutes you know you’ve put in a shift anyway and what’s there and what’s left to give mightn’t be as much or mightn’t be as convincing with what you know is in the legs.”
How Geaney would have loved to been on the pitch when Peter Crowley was hit as he was by Kevin McManamon, if only to call for a pop pass from him and get into a scoring position.
Watching the closing stages being unable to do anything about Kerry’s fate was more difficult than seeing David Gough make the wrong call in not awarding Crowley a free.
“I had a great view of it,” he recalled of the challenge. “Initially, you think it’s a free – look, it was a free – but I think the referee contributed to a great game of football in that he let things go throughout the game, he let the game flow, let the game get to an intensity that made it such a great game of football.
“The referee has got to get credit for that. But you’re always going to feel aggrieved by these decisions.
“If we had won the game Dublin would have felt aggrieved about a decision or two. Philly (McMahon) got hit by Aidan as well, similar to Peter’s. Not as much was made about it because it was out towards the sideline and not such a scoring opportunity. But Dean Rock is in the form of his life. He could very well have nailed that. These are just the swings and roundabouts of the game. When you lose, you take grievance with it; if you win, you move on.”
Geaney returned to training with Dingle last Friday before lining out in their final league game. But he did so in a daze. “I still haven’t really snapped out of it, to be honest,” he said before admitting, “For me, it’s tougher to take because I thought we were going to have an All-Ireland final.
“I was convinced we were going to win. That’s the toughest one for me. After the final whistle in Croke Park that day, the year was finished. For me, it felt premature. That was the toughest thing for me to take.”
Paul Geaney yesterday received the Opel GAA-GPA footballer of the month award for August
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