The last time Kerry achieved four consecutive Munster MFC titles was 1951, the culmination of what was a seven in a row beginning in 1945.
Having triumphed in Munster in 2013, ’14, and ’15 (winning All-Irelands in the latter two years), a win over Clare in Miltown-Malbay tonight (7pm) would put the Kingdom into the provincial final and keep alive the quest for a fourth on the trot.
Three weeks ago, they began their campaign with a 21-point win away to Waterford, but manager Peter Keane hasn’t had as much access to his panel in the interim as he would have liked.
“There has been a lot of local football,” he says.
“The minor league has been ongoing and then there are the divisional championships, so the players have been occupied.
“Obviously, you’d like to have had more time to work with them as a group but they’ve all been playing football and you can’t really complain about that.”
It’s the time of year when minor schedules are packed so as to free up the lead-in to the Leaving Certificate. Keane doesn’t think his charges are unduly worried by the upcoming exams — in fact, he believes that they are exactly the kind of people who thrive on the pressure.
“It’s similar for all minor teams,” he says. “About half the team have the Leaving Cert, but I’ve always said that good footballers are generally high achievers and that makes for good students.
“What sets them apart as players and people is the ability to focus properly on the task at hand and that’s the approach that they have brought to the set-up and I’m sure it’s how they are with regard to their studies.”
There were certainly no problems against the Déise. Going in heavy favourites, Kerry won by 2-21 to 1-2, so was Keane happy with the win or was a it a case of not being tested enough?
“My answer to both questions would be yes,” he says.
“I think we went down there and performed in a very professional manner, we did what we were supposed to, did our business and got the win.
“It’s not always easy like that when you’re expected to win but you couldn’t fault the performance.”
Now Clare, who beat Limerick, stand in the way. The semi-final stage doesn’t afford another chance for the losers, so the risks are greater.
“Well, the main difference is that there’s no safety net now,” Keane says.
“It’s pretty much do or die for a place in a Munster final and that’s the way that we have to approach it.
“Obviously, it’s fraught with danger when you know that there’s no second chance and, with young lads, travelling a long distance up to Clare adds another element of uncertainty. But that’s not an excuse, we knew that that’s the way the draw would turn out if we both won.
“It’s like the first game, they have a job to do and hopefully they’ll do it.”
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