Tomás Ó Sé is fully behind his manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s decision to hold some Kerry training sessions behind closed doors after it was discovered the formation of championship teams were being leaked to the media.
Even now, it has been suggested in recent days Colm Cooper will be stationed on the half-forward line against Tipperary in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday. Fitzmaurice wrote an open letter to supporters on the official Kerry website last week outlining his reasons why he needs to be secretive about some training sessions.
Ó Sé would understand if genuine Kerry supporters are put out by the decision but argues that it had to happen, for the team’s sake.
“They are mad about their football down in Kerry. Through no fault of their own there was stuff coming out. The line has gone so thin and everybody is trying so hard and training so hard, it’s gone so professional that you really do need to have an edge.
“As we were training, the teams were getting out quicker than it was announced to ourselves and I suppose that’s wrong, in a way. You’d see it printed in the paper, that whatever, so and so was going to start corner forward because that’s the way it was going in training.
“I know it doesn’t make much of a difference, whatever’s going to happen on the day’s going to happen on the day. Look, I’d say most teams in the country are closed doors at this stage and just because it’s Kerry, tourists going up there in the summer I’d say it’s a little bit busier.
“And it’s something for them to do. I mean obviously Eamonn says the gates are still going to be opened a lot. It’s not as if nobody’s going to see Kerry training ever again, I don’t think that’s the case at all, at all.
“Certain things you need to keep in doors, any fellas fighting or whatever you like to keep that quiet as well, do you know?” he gleamed.
Have Kerry something to hide? Nothing extraordinary, says Ó Sé.
“Eamonn, from his point of view, it’s easier to work when there’s not anything going on around and there’s not anybody talking about it.
“I don’t think there was anything going on in there that was being replicated anywhere else. Everybody has their own ideas and they’d be foolish enough copying anybody anyway.”
After last summer breaking brother Darragh’s record for most championship appearances ever (in football and hurling), Ó Sé will pull ahead by three to 84 if he sees action this weekend. Not one for keeping count, he suggests whatever number he reaches will be broken by somebody else, possibly even in the Kerry panel, with Colm Cooper likely to make his 66th appearance on Sunday and Marc his 65th.
“Even in the Kerry team alone, I’d say there will be a few fellas there to push it along. Records are there to be broken so I wouldn’t be holding out on to it too long.”
Heralded this week as a player as fit as he was at 25 by team-mate Kieran Donaghy, Ó Sé admits he would have likely retired had Fitzmaurice not been appointed manager.
“I won’t lie — I was questioning whether I was going back or not. It was disappointing last year again, the finish to it [losing to Donegal]. When Eamonn came in I was happy that it was freshened up, that the whole backroom team was freshened up.
“Very often when that happened — it happened us before with Pat O’Shea — it gives fellas a boost so I liked that when I saw it and it swung it for me really. I had no problem at all. There was no conversation or anything like that. Eamonn asked me if I wanted a bit of time, but no, I went back early. It was straightforward enough.”
Ó Sé figures Kerry in the past couple of years hadn’t been emphasising enough work on what they do when they’re without the ball. He rejects the idea their personnel and means had become too familiar to other teams.
“If it’s on video most teams have it. Sure every fella is trying to improve every year and every fella should look at himself and say ‘how can I improve? How can I put an edge to myself that fellas won’t know what’s coming?’
“I just hope the attitude is still there, from the older lads more so.
“I’ve no fear about the attitude of the younger lads, I just hope everybody is on the same wavelength and everybody approaches all the games the same way.”
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