GAA Football

Bitterly disappointed Kerry manager Peter Keane reflects on a season of near-misses

Dublin's David Byrne and Kerry's Paul Geaney in action during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship final Replay between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park Dublin Saterday 09-14-2019. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

Reporter: ‘How is the mood in the dressingroom? It would be very gloomy, I would imagine, after losing an All-Ireland final?’

Peter Keane: ‘My God, what do you think?’

COLD comfort, but comfort nonetheless. Kerry made progress in 2019 but the great leap forward didn’t come – not yet – and they returned to their Kingdom yesterday with honour but no Sam Maguire.

As Dublin celebrated their historic five in-a-row, Kerry manager Peter Keane reflected on a season that saw his young side challenge the best in the land but fall short in National League and All-Ireland finals.

“I would be terribly proud of the lads,” said Keane.

“They fought with their shoes on (sic) until the end and had to be carried out of there.

“Throughout the year they’ve given me the same but we’ve lost an All-Ireland final here and a League final here.

“That happens but there was a lot of learning. Take the top six teams in the Championship: Dublin we drew with, Donegal, we drew with, Tyrone, we beat, Cork, we beat in Munster, Mayo, we beat in Killarney… So we had no easy route to this (final) for a young team and you hope that they learn from that.

“By and large we’re reasonably happy but you’re not happy to lose an All-Ireland final.”

There is certainly a lot for Keane to build. He has assembled a panel of talented players who look the best equipped side to end Dublin’s unparalleled Championship dominance. This decade has been about the Dubs, maybe the next will be about the Kingdom?

“You would hope so,” he said,

“But you’re not too worried about going forward today, you’re just disappointed so we’ll worry about that in the next few weeks or months.

“At the end of the day, you’ve lost an All-Ireland final and you go away and lick your wounds and gather yourself and come back and go at it again next year.”

Keane’s men were rocked early on as Dublin raced into the lead but they fought their way back into the game and end a superb first half neck and neck on 10 points apiece.

However, baby-faced assassin Eoin Murchan sent the Dubs ahead with a superb goal seconds into the second period and Kerry were unable to recover from that body blow.

“The goal wasn’t part of the plan immediately after half-time,” said Keane.

“But we worked our way back in to get it to two points again and we had a few chances after that but I suppose we were stretching it at all times thereafter.

“If you are going to concede a goal it’s as good a time as any because you probably have 40 minutes to go after it. We had a goal chance ourselves and we were down three at the time. We had chances, we just didn’t convert them.

“The wides we hit… That’ll happen and it’s a learning curve.”

“There were a few areas where we struggling in and they were able to dominate then. They were kicking scores and when we were chasing it back we weren’t getting them. It was small little margins.”

As for the champions, Keane could only doff his cap to them.

“What can you say?

“They’re after winning five All-Irelands in-a-row. It’s a historic day, no matter what happened today – they were either going to win five or not win five. There was going to be history one way or the other.

“You have to compliment them and congratulate them on their achievement.”

Wiser for their 2019, Keane and his men will be back in 2020. If Saturday’s experience doesn’t sharpen Kerry minds to stopping a six in-a-row, nothing will.

 

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