Marc Ó Sé believes Kerry’s bench options have vastly improved this year.
Jack O’Connor called on just Paul Galvin, Daniel Bohane and Barry John Keane in last year’s All-Ireland final compared to the four used by Pat Gilroy.
But Ó Sé is enthused by the amount of young players who were successfully blooded in this year’s league campaign.
“You’ve five or six of them who have really stepped up to the plate and that really strengthens your panel big time.
“You look at last year’s All-Ireland final, we only brought on three subs. I don’t think there’s any game this year that we’ll only be bringing on three subs.
“You saw against Mayo [in Division 1 semi-final], we brought on five and we’ve been doing that in every match. It’s now a 25-player game, really.”
Ó Se, who is out of Sunday’s game against Tipperary with a slight hamstring strain, also reckons he has never experienced competition like this for places in the Kerry defence.
Tom O’Sullivan and Tommy Griffin may have gone but with Brian McGuire, Shane Enright and Peter Crowley vying strongly for places, there is certainly no let-up in the battle for a starting jersey.
“There are a lot of positions up for grabs and, to be honest, in a way you are missing out on the Tipperary match and you’d be worried like because whatever the team is fellas in contention for places are playing well. The worry I have [is] they don’t replace me if we get over Tipperary.”
Ó Se misses his first senior championship start for Kerry since 2004 on Sunday. He could have played but is wary of doing further damage to his hamstring.
“I don’t know when I did it but it’s been aggravating me for the last few months. I got a scan on it [on Monday] and it showed a slight tear in it and it’s just a matter of it being seen to.
“I could have played on Sunday but you could be aggravating it again if you got over Sunday. Err on the side of caution.”
He has little doubt his team-mates will beat Tipperary in Semple Stadium anyway.
“Let’s be honest, we like to think we’re going to win the match against Tipperary if we play the way we can play, we feel we should win.
“You can’t take anything for granted and Tipp have had good underage teams but if we play the way we can play then hopefully we’ll get the result.”
Ó Se, 32, is one full-back line defender who is in support of the new square ball rule.
Others, such as Michael Shields, have expressed their doubts about it but the three-time All Star can see the merit in it. He also argues it will encourage more teams to place a physical, tall full-forward at the edge of the square.
“When it’s a placed ball you can’t go in and that’s fair enough, it’d be consternation otherwise. It’ll just mean goalkeepers will have to be more physical and defenders will have to be too.
“It’ll bring back the old-style full-forward again. We saw it with Kieran [Donaghy]. It’s up to every manager to decide what they want to do.
“Some teams have them [big full-forwards], we’ve Donaghy, Donegal have Michael Murphy, Cork have been using Aidan Walsh.
“Dublin haven’t been using a big full-forward but it’s horses for courses.
“A big full-back might be good one day but mightn’t be good the following day so it’ll be horses for courses.”
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