SELECTOR Ger O’Keeffe has dismissed suggestions Kerry have a discipline problem after confirmation Tomás O Sé has been proposed for a four-week ban after an incident involving Limerick’s Stephen Kelly in Sunday’s Munster final.
The two players clashed on several occasions in Killarney and, though O Sé escaped censure, he is now set to miss the All-Ireland quarter-final following the Central Competitions Control Committee’s recommendation.
A statement from the Kerry county board yesterday confirmed O Sé has been charged with a category two offence (striking with the elbow) and that he will not be appealing which means that he will join Paul Galvin on the sidelines for the next game.
Comparisons have been drawn with the county’s ultimately unsuccessful 2008 campaign when Galvin also served a lengthy ban and both Marc and Darragh O Sé – the latter twice – were dismissed during the campaign.
“They are two incidents we could have done without but they were just two incidents,” said O’Keeffe of the Galvin and O Sé suspensions. “They were highlighted and we move on. They will be huge losses, no doubt about it, but we will plan accordingly for the quarter-final.”
The reaction in Kerry to O Sé’s imminent ban has been very different to that which greeted news of Galvin’s. O’Keeffe, for one, accepted yesterday that the TV images of the O Sé incident were “straightforward”.
That was echoed by 1997 All-Ireland winning forward Billy O’Shea: ” A lot of media attention was brought to the incident,” he told Radio Kerry. “Looking back at it, had Tomás been booked by the referee early on in the game, it might have clicked with him and he might have concentrated more on the game. It was a bad tackle, it was highlighted, so it really does not come as a surprise that he got a suspension out of it.”
O Sé was the only player to receive official word of a proposed suspension after a weekend in which Sligo’s Eamon O’Hara, Wexford’s Stephen Banville and Daithí Waters as well as Kilkenny’s Eddie Brennan were all involved in controversial incidents.
It is thought that Banville will still be hit with some disciplinary action after the incident in which he was involved saw Tipperary’s Declan Fanning requiring 25 stitches to a head wound. However, Wexford are already out of the championship making any ban immaterial.
All the incidents were highlighted between TV3 and RTÉ last Sunday and GAA president Christy Cooney was again quick to reiterate his satisfaction with the CCCC yesterday, not to mention its independence in adjudicating on incidents.
The absence of both Galvin and Tomás O Sé is the last thing O’Connor would have wished for at the start of a summer for which he was already planning without men like Darragh O Sé, Tadhg Kennelly, Tommy Walsh and Diarmuid Murphy.
Last week’s Munster final success failed to paper over the fact that none of that quartet have been adequately replaced as yet, although the reigning champions will have been encouraged by the contributions of their bench.
“No team ever goes through a game now with just the first 15 being involved,” said O’Keeffe. “It is hugely important now to have enough back-up and we were lucky in that we had the substitutes there who can make an impact. Long may it continue.”
Criticisms of Kerry’s performance, both on an individual and collective level, was somewhat tempered when it transpired the squad had gathered for just three training sessions between the replay win over Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and last weekend.
However, claims that the management team had deliberately chosen a lighter ‘block’ of training sessions in the belief that it would still be enough to see off Limerick were rejected by the Kerry selector.
“There was a lot of speculation about that but the fact is that we had a round of county championship matches to get through and replays like the one against Cork cause problems with fixtures,” he pointed out.
“You can’t lose out on club matches and players needed to train with their clubs as well. We had the players when we wanted them and you have to remember that they had two very tough games against Cork and they are only amateurs.
“ We did all the basic training we needed to.”
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