GAA Football

Kerry are flying fit says Killian Young

Donegal's Paddy McBrearty with Killian Young of Kerry during Sunday's NFL match at Letterkenny Picture Margaret McLaughlin

KILLIAN Young feels fitter than he’s ever been for the month of February after Kerry fired out an ominous warning to the rest of Division One following their opening day win over Donegal.

The Tir Chonaill men were far from full strength in Letterkenny – but Kerry were still hugely impressive and looked sharper all over the field on Sunday.

Nine different players got on the score-sheet and although Donegal fought back in the closing stages to narrow the gap to just three points, Kerry enjoyed virtual domination for long spells.

“We’ve done a lot of work, individually, in December,” said Young, who shadowed Patrick McBrearty for most of Sunday’s tie.

“We started earlier and there were no distractions in terms of team holidays or things like that. We were on the go from the 3rd of January as a team so we’re happy with where we are. We’ve done a lot of hard running and we’re in good shape.”

Renowned for being slow starters in the National League, manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has radically changed Kerry’s approach in 2017.

Their 2-17 to 1-17 win over Donegal was one of their best opening performances in the National League for a long time.

“We’re happy enough with that performance,” Young said.

“It was about coming up here and getting the two points after conceding the first goal.

“So we’re delighted with that. I thought we played very well in spells of the game. We did lose our game in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

“Donegal really came at us, they had nothing to lose so it’s something we can learn from.”

He added: “There was very good movement inside. I think our kicking was very good as well at times and we moved the ball at pace and really moved Donegal across and around the field.

“We got one-on-one situations inside in spells which was exactly what we were looking for. We were very happy with the boys inside, their movement was excellent and they were clinical as well.”

Paul Geaney delivered another man-of-the-match display in the green and gold, notching an impressive 2-4 (2-2 from play), but probably a bigger talking point was the excellent performances from the new boys.

Jack Savage of Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s didn’t look out of place beside Geaney, while Jack Barry and Tom O’Sullivan were equally impressive in their first starts for their county at senior level.

“It’s very important these guys coming in and doing well,” said Young, who is in his 10th season with Kerry.

“We have to throw them into the deep end. I remember making my [senior] debut being straight out of minors in 2006 in Castlebar, an away game.

“That’s the way you learn. You have to be playing games; you can’t be just training for two or three years in the camp.

“You need to get out there and experience National League games and build towards the Championship.

“It’s good experience for those guys and they did very well. I’m sure Eamonn and Jack O’Connor with the U21s will be happy with their run-out.”

With Kieran Donghy and Colm Cooper still to come back into the squad this year, there is fierce competition for places.

“There’s always pressure like that - you need that,” said Young.

“It’s a healthy thing. If you don’t you’re going to get found out. It keeps you on your toes, you need competition and certainly there is that. We’ll be tested throughout the year, no doubt.”

Known for his attacking thrusts from wing-back, Young showed on Sunday that he’s equally at home man-marking one of the opposition’s best forwards.

When Shane Enright’s day was cut short after a heavy collision with Michael Murphy, Young moved back to try and curtail McBrearty.

“You have to expect the unexpected. I was in the half-back line and it’s a different type of game all of a sudden when Shane [Enright] got that injury which was a bad one.

“Thankfully it went well [against McBrearty]. I was happy with the team performance for long spells and, okay, the last 10 or 15 minutes we have a bit of work to do but it’s a platform that we have and we can work on that throughout the week.”

With Mayo up next for the Kingdom, Young added: “We really wanted to get off to a fast start in the League and it’s exciting as a player. It’s a lot tighter; there are a lot of games.

“You’re only waiting one week or two weeks and as players you want to play games. And it’s nice to be building on a performance like that as well. We’re looking forward to getting out on Saturday night in Tralee.”

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