Painful memories keeping Stack focused as The Nire loom

It’s hardly surprising Stephen Stack isn’t tempting fate this week by loading up on Austin Stacks at his local bookmakers.

Painful memories keeping Stack focused as The Nire loom

And when he spoke with Benji Whelan in Dublin yesterday about having the height of respect for Whelan’s The Nire team, it wasn’t a patronising nod ahead of Sunday’s AIB Munster club decider either.

The reality for Stack is that his name will forever be linked with one of Gaelic football’s great David versus Goliath slayings, Kerry’s 1992 Munster final defeat to Clare. And the memory still pains 22 years on.

“I was saying to Benji that when I was a minor in ‘84, we went down to Dungarvan to play a Munster semi-final and barely came out of there with a one- or two-point win,” said Stack at yesterday’s pre-Munster final briefing.

“Of course, I was on the receiving end of that defeat in 1992 against Clare. I always have the greatest of respect for footballers, full stop.

“It doesn’t matter if you put a badge on them, whether they’re from a so-called weaker county or otherwise. These fellas all put in the same effort as we do.

“And the club championship is a very different competition anyway. Not many teams from Kerry have won it.

“It’s littered with teams from so-called weaker counties that do very well in it. The likes of Éire Óg, the likes of Baltinglass, Rathnew, St Gall’s. It’s a completely different mind-set.

“So complacency? No, not with us, because we haven’t been in this situation in 20 years. Enough of our fellas have been on the receiving end of three or four county final defeats to assume that, if it doesn’t happen this year, they may well not get another chance.”

Stack pointed too to the fact that it was only last year that the current Kerry champions were being heavily questioned after leaking four goals in the final against Dr Crokes.

“We were in a very difficult place after the county final last year,” he said. “Until I go to the grave, I’ll never forget the loyalty and defiance that the supporters had on our behalf.

“Even that night inside in the bar in the club, there were no recriminations. They were just saying, ‘look, get back up on the horse’.

Asked how much he knows about The Nire, Stack said, ‘a lot’. It’s a similar situation for his opposite number, Whelan, who prides himself on his detailed analysis of the opposition.

“It’s probably one of the corner stones of the way we manage, looking at the opposition and finding out exactly how they tick, what makes them tick and how to stop them ticking,” said Whelan.

“So Kieran Donaghy obviously comes into the equation that way. But he’s just one. I mean Daniel Bohane goes through a tremendous amount of ball each game.

“But our team is built on hard work and graft, on backing each other and curtailing the opposition so that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”

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