Kerry minor captain Seán O’Shea has warned that the Kingdom must not play the occasion on Sunday.
O’Shea — one of two survivors from last year’s All-Ireland final winning team along with goalkeeper Billy Courtney - is one of six players to boast Croke Park final experience in the form of last April’s Hogan Cup decider with St Brendan’s, Killarney.
The captain is hopeful the level-headed nature of the Kerry squad will ensure stage fright isn’t an issue against Galway.
“An All-Ireland final is a big day and you dream of playing in an All-Ireland final. It is a big occasion but you try not to let that get to you,” said the Kenmare centre-forward.
“You prepare for it like you would prepare for any other game. You try not to worry too much about the occasion and hopefully the performance will come.”
O’Shea has made it a priority to educate the panel on what to expect this weekend. “I just try and bring what I learnt from last year to the younger lads and hopefully that will help them. Even if it is only small things like preparing for the game, getting familiar with your surroundings in Croke Park, ignoring the crowd and feeling comfortable. But having been there before most of them should be all right, though a final can be different.”
The centre-forward has attributed their dominance en-route to a third successive final — Peter Keane’s charges boast an average winning margin of 13 points - to the intensity at training brought by those who have spent the majority of the campaign on the bench.
“The A v B games we have in Fitzgerald Stadium are savage. The lads in the first 15 cannot become complacent because there is another lad snapping at their heels trying to grab the jersey off them. That is what is driving us on this year — the guys who are not on the first 15 or even on the first 24, are putting down markers in training and that is keeping us sharp.
“That is the intensity you want as there is nothing worse than being flat in training because it can transfer itself to match day. We try and replicate as much of what we do on match day at training.”
This attitude is what has impressed selector, and five-time All-Ireland winner, Tommy Griffin.
“They are very willing to learn. They are taking a lot of stuff on board. One thing I have noticed since the start of the year is that they have been improving in all aspects of their game.
“They are far from being the finished article but since we got them in at the start of the year, it was obvious that they were a very talented bunch with a lot of ability.
“Ability will only take you so far and it is their work ethic, their commitment, their attitude and their dedication which has been the most pleasing aspect. The results follow on after that and hopefully we will get another result now on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the Galway team to face Kerry shows one change from the side which overcame Donegal in the semi-final. Liam Boyle comes in at corner-back with Barry Goldrick making way.
C Haslam (Glenamaddy); L Boyle (Kilkerrin-Clonberne), S Mulkerrin (Aran Islands), E McFadden (Salthill-Knocknacarra); A Quirke (Annaghdown), E McDonagh (Bearna), F Garvey (Monivea-Abbey); C D’Arcy (Caherlistrane), J Maher (Salthill- Knocknacarra); F Ó Laoi (An Spidéal), E Murphy (Salthill Knocknacarra), R Forde (Annaghdown); R Finnerty (Salthill-Knocknacarra), S Raftery (Glenamaddy), D Conneely (Moycullen).
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