KERRY boss Peter Keane said he wouldn’t be a huge fan of playing inter-county championship games behind closed doors but he insisted: “You take anything that’s going”.
He said he has been watching the Bundesliga action in Germany on television – with no fans allowed – and it looks “fairly flat” but, he conceded, it would be better than nothing if it meant there could be action again.
“It goes back to how safe it can be because, at the end of the day, the priority is how safe can you keep your players and the officials who are involved?” he said.
In an interview on Radio Kerry’s flagship sports programme Terrace Talk, on Monday evening, the Kerry manager said concerns surround whether players will be able to safely mark each other or if there was a fear that they could “bring something home”.
Keane said the vibes Kerry County Board officers are getting from Croke Park about a return to action are very positive.
“We are all hopeful and, at the end of the day, we need hope,” said the Listry clubman who acknowledged that the club scene was probably more important at this stage as up to 98 per cent of the playing population in the GAA are playing club football.
He said he could see real difficulty if a decision was taken to run the 2020 championship early in 2021 as he doesn’t know how the GAA could possibly run two championships in one year.
The Kerry manager told interviewer Eamonn Hickson that he is in favour of the National League being finished – if that’s possible – as, he noted, every county will be looking for a few challenge games once they get going again and there would be no better way to get game time in than finishing the league.
Kerry had two games remaining – against Monaghan and Donegal – when the Covid-19 lockdown commenced.
The Kerry supremo said, ideally, managers are going to look for a lead-in of three or four weeks for training and preparation before competitive action resumes.
“Your inter-county player is never more than 20 per cent off full fitness at any given time so it mightn’t take a whole pile to get them back right,” he said.
But, he wondered, if it’s later in the year and they have eight or 10 weeks of club football already played, how much football can they possibly be asked to play?
The former All-Ireland winning minor manager said the Kerry management team has been keeping in touch with the players on Zoom and they are in “tremendous form” and looking forward to getting back in action.
“You know when you are talking to the players that they are obviously anxious to get going again but they have settled into doing different things,” he said, adding that the players are adhering to their own gym and running programmes.
The Kerry manager said conducting inter-county training online has a lot of possibilities and the management had already been attempting to curtail the amount of travel undertaken by the squad over the last year and a half.
But he acknowledged: “You build up bonds better by having fellas on the pitch together and Kerry or any other team are no different to that”.
In relation to the reopening of pitches and the resumption of action, Keane said the GAA will, ultimately, be guided by the government and the HSE but he welcomed the decision to open the walking tracks surrounding GAA grounds next week.
He said he would personally be in favour of opening grounds to enable four players to get together for a kick around because the Covid shutdown has been very difficult for teenagers and younger people who can’t get out to meet their friends.
“If they could get down to the local field and kick a bit of ball it wouldn’t do them any harm at all,” he said.
Commenting on the problems that might arise with the practice of players sharing drink bottles during a game or in training, Keane said Kerry team attendants Colm Whelan and Eddie Walsh and team dietician Deirdre Kelly will have a lot of work to do on it.
He said consideration might be given to using gloves all the time or it might entail something like introducing a water break every 15 minutes to allow players to get their own bottles.
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