Darragh Ó Sé is looking forward to getting the most out of the Kerry U21 side next season and putting them “in the shop window” for the senior side.
The six-time All-Ireland winner and four-time All Star was ratified as the new manager for two years on Monday night after a season spent as a selector at that age level under new senior manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
“I really enjoyed the last year and being involved with them and that’s what has me excited about getting involved again,” Ó Sé said last night.
“Eamonn [Fitzmaurice] was great and just to see the enjoyment the players got from their time there makes you want to go back for more. They were a great bunch of lads and I just want to try and maximise what they get out of themselves and I’d be hoping to maximise their potential next season. I’m looking forward to that aspect of it.”
The county’s underage successes have been limited, with the U21 team winning just one All-Ireland since 1998. Fourteen years ago, the victorious team produced Tom O’Sullivan, Mike McCarthy, Tomás Ó Sé, Tommy Griffin, Mike Frank Russell, Aodhán MacGearailt and new senior boss Fitzmaurice.
Meanwhile the 2008 All-Ireland-winning side at the grade contained Shane Enright, Killian Young, David Moran, Kieran O’Leary, Johnny Buckley and Tommy Walsh.
With some of those coming to the tail end of their careers, it has been suggested Kerry need more underage success to help replenish senior stocks.
Indeed the county have won just two Munster U21 titles since the turn of the millennium, while Cork have won eight in the same period.
“Well in fairness, Kerry tend to get the most out of their underage teams,” continues Ó Sé. “They’ve pulled everyone they can from underage teams and developed them and that’s been important in terms of the senior team. But everyone on these underage teams wants to play senior in the future and part of this job is developing them and giving them the chance to impress Eamonn over the coming seasons.
“But more than that, all these guys at this time of the year will be watching the big games and they’ll have seen Donegal and what they have achieved and how they’ve achieved it and they’ll want to emulate that.
“It mightn’t be possible but it’s about trying to have a platform in place where they can at least have a chance of emulating that.
“I can remember when I was at that age and it’s very different. You look at the conditioning and the strength of the guys there now and it’s unrecognisable. A big part of it now is about conditioning and the hope next year will be to put in place what’s needed and that will give these guys the chance to be the best U21s they can possibly be and the best footballers they can possibly be.
“If that happens then hopefully a few can take the next step and make it for Kerry at senior level.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved