'We're coming alright, there's no doubt about that' - Geaney finds crumbs of comfort in defeat
LATELY it seems that Croke Park hasn’t been all that kind to Kerry. It seems as though the only really good day they’ve had there in the last five years was the 2014 final.
Decider defeats by Dublin in 2015 and 2019, semi-final losses to them in 2013 and 2016, a replay loss to Mayo in 2017 and the Galway defeat last year.
It’s hardly a Croke Park issue, but that doesn’t make the concrete walls of the players’ tunnel feel any warmer in defeat.
And yet even in the desolation of an All-Ireland final defeat, there were crumbs of comfort for Paul Geaney.
“It probably felt like it was the start of something last year when we’d a fantastic Munster campaign. It’s well documented that the wheels fell off after that, coming up here against Galway, the confidence took a hit and last year fell away.
“I think this thing started last year with the inclusion of a few of the lads that came into the squad, David and Seanie and Tom, a few guys that have established themselves.
“It’s definitely the start of something, yeah, there’s no doubt about that. I’m long enough around now for a few rewards, I’ve had a few tough days here at this stage.”
The 28-year-old Dingle forward, excellent across both games against the Dubs, admitted the goal was the crucial score, and defended the Kerry defence against claims that someone should have left their man to go across and meet Eoin Murchan on his run.
“I think our centre-forward, Seanie [O’Shea], went looking for the break and David drove a fist on it, Murchan came in from the wing with his man and found himself on the 65’ receiving a punch from us.
“He gandered through the middle, what do you do there, do you leave him go with the ball or do you go to him and leave him handpass it off to Con O’Callaghan or someone? I suppose you take your chances there, and he buried it, fantastic finish.”
Kerry came into the first All-Ireland final as virtual no-hopers but over the two games they proved that they have the raw materials to be the team that eventually dethrones Dublin.
The Dubs are expected to lose a handful of players to retirement in the closed season, while doubts have grown over the future of Jim Gavin.
“That’s life, that’s sport, it’ll go in cycles,” says Geaney.
“Dublin have been fantastic the last decade, very hard to beat, we’ve only beaten them a handful of times. We’re coming alright, there’s no doubt about that.
“It’s great to have two shots at an All-Ireland in two weeks, now we’ve to wait a year again. It’s a long process to get back there, it’s not an easy task.
“There’s a lot of good teams in the country at the moment, it’s probably as competitive as it’s been since 2014, that was the last time there were more than two or three teams competing for the All-Ireland, there were four or five that year. It’ll be difficult to get back here.”