Hamstring injuries may hamper Kerry's preparations
THIS time last year Peter Keane was preparing to go to Croke Park for a different All-Ireland semi-final, namely a meeting with Monaghan in the Minor event.
In fact, for Keane personally this is his fourth consecutive All-Ireland semi-final after having both Kildare and Cavan as the opposition in his first two years in the Minor role.
Ulster opposition for the third straight year for him now awaits in Tyrone but it is the first time he is doing so as Kerry senior manager with Kerry bidding to replicate their 2015 success at the same stage over the Red Hand County.
Keane encountered Tyrone in his first match at senior level in a Kerry win in the League back in January.
That game he feels is of little relevance at this point in time and feels that the only way one can be sure if his relatively young side is ready for the challenge or not is to find out on the day itself.
“We had a lot to deal with coming in as a management due to retirements, players coming back after being away and giving players debuts,'' the three-time All-Ireland Minor winning manager said.
“The only way you gain experience for days like All-Ireland semi-finals is being involved in them.”
Sunday’s match takes place of the back of the completion of the second year of the ‘Super 8’, something Keane feels he can’t give a straight answer about in terms of its overall value or merit.
“It was only my first year involved but I did think giving the provincial champions the first game at home was a good idea,” he said.
“I would be worried though about stronger counties getting stronger if it continues in the way it is,
“Maybe bringing in a Tier 2 competition would solve a lot of the problems as you might not need a ‘Super 8’ as such then in Tier 1 if you have another competition for counties,” he said.
Injuries have been an issue over the course of the schedule Keane admitted though with David Clifford cleared to play having encountered a ‘back spasm’ that ruled him out of the Meath game.
However, hamstring injuries appear to be hampering both James O’Donoghue and Tomas Ó Sé: “James I wouldn’t be so sure about with the condition he has at present.
“For Tomas it’s desperately unlucky for him that he developed a hamstring issue himself having got the red card from the Donegal game rescinded.
“It’s one thing that I have found noticeable from the campaign is that after a game a player you think has come through ok has suddenly developed something overnight as a result of the match.
“That is something that is tough to deal with in a short window,” the Kerry boss added.
In terms of how Tyrone might set-up to counteract the Kingdom on Sunday, Keane is not overly concerned if the Red Hand County go for a defensive shape.
“We have anticipated and encountered defensive set-ups in the campaign already especially against Donegal while it was congested as well at times against both Mayo and Meath. ,” he said.
“Patience with dealing with them is something you try and teach in training, but the players must have the ability to back themselves in producing the skill-set to win these games,” he said.
The Kerry boss is also firmly sticking to a mantra about how he would view reaching an All-Ireland final in his first year in charge of the senior set-up:
“I know some people have been frustrated by this answer, but we have been consistent in saying it is only one game at a time for us this year.
“You can’t be worrying about playing an All-Ireland final if you are not involved in one.”