WITH four wins from four, including a stunning triumph over Dublin to give the All-Ireland champions something to ponder in their drive for five, Kerry supporters are beginning to sit up and take notice of Peter Keane’s hugely exciting new-look squad that has proven to be more than a match for all opposition encountered in the early stages of the National League.
It’s not all about the eight points that have been garnered to put the Kingdom in poll position in the top flight, it’s more the manner in which the victories are being achieved with a youthful squad of players performing with cohesion, a great sense of purpose and with a confidence and self-belief that appeared to be lacking in the latter stages of the previous administration’s tenure.
Peter Keane has his squad playing what could only be described as versatile, total football with positions counting for little in a one-in, all-in approach.
Although primarily tasked with defensive duties, the likes of full Peter Crowley, Jack Sherwood and Shane Enright – not to mention Tom O’Sullivan – are likely to emerge from the back line to have a pop at the posts and, in fact, all four mentioned have made their mark on the scoreboard in this year’s campaign.
Equally, despite their potency in attack, when they take a break from tormenting the opposition’s rearguard stylists of the calibre of Seanie O’Shea, Dara Moynihan, Diarmuid O’Connor and Stephen O’Brien can just as frequently be found standing shoulder to shoulder with their own defence, fighting for every ball.
It’s the Peter Keane way – and it’s working. And while there is a long season ahead and the championship will certainly pose bigger questions, the results to date and the attractive brand of football on show augurs well going forward.
Kerry’s greatest asset this year is undoubtedly strength in numbers and the sheer quality and versatility on offer, from the bench and in the extended panel, provides a very strong hint that this could be a rather special year for followers of the green and gold. Ultimate honours might prove elusive – but there will be some fun and excitement along the way.
It’s encouraging that Dublin, Galway, Tyrone and Cavan have already been brushed aside in the league but what makes it all the more remarkable is that the four spirited victories have been achieved without the likes of David Clifford, James O’Donoghue, Gavin White, Micheál Burns, Shane Murphy, Kevin McCarthy and others who had such anchor roles in the side last season.
Dublin’s great advantage has always been the strength in depth of their panel and, now in Kerry, it is fast approaching a similar scenario which is quite exciting for all observers.
An interesting exercise, that gives a real insight into the power of Keane’s squad, is to select a first fifteen and subs from the panel members that did not start against Galway in Tuam last Sunday. And the full forward line along – Clifford, Geaney and O’Donoghue – tells its own story.
It gives real food for thought – a Green v Gold encounter – and while it has all the makings of a gripping probables v possibles clash in Currans of Fitzgerald Stadium, it’s enough to send a collective shiver down the spines of all other pretenders to Dublin’s lofty throne.
The Green Team
The players that started against Galway
Shane Ryan (Rathmore), Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Shane Enright (Tarbert), Gavin Crowley (Templenoe), Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle), Jack Barry (Na Gaeil), Mark Griffin (St Michael’s Foilmore), Diarmud O’Connor (Na Gaeil), Seanie O’Shea (Kenmare), Gavin O’Brien (Kerins O’Rahillys), Dara Moynihan (Spa), Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahillys), Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare).
Subs: Brian Kelly (Legion), Jonathan Lyne (Legion), Mikey Geaney (Dingle), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin), Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), Conor Geaney (Dingle), Tomás Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), Jason Foley (Ballydonogue), Killian Spillane (Templenoe), Denis Daly (St Marys).
The Gold Team
The players that didn’t start against Galway
Brian Kelly (Legion), Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Gaeltacht), Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), Tom ‘Leo’ O’Sullivan (Dingle), Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), Gavin White (Dr Crokes), Jonathan Lyne (Legion), David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys), Adrian Spillane (Templenoe), Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes), Mikey Geaney (Dingle), Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin), David Clifford (Fossa), Paul Geaney (Dingle), James O’Donoghue (Killarney Legion).
Subs: Shane Murphy (Dr Crokes), Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid), Killian Young (Renard), Michael Potts (Dr Crokes), Rob Wharton (Renard), Mark Ryan (Rathmore), Denis Daly (St Marys), Killian Spillane (Templenoe),Tomás Ó Sé (Gaeltacht), Conor Geaney (Dingle), David Shaw (Dr Crokes).
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