Down's loss is Kerry's gain, says Kevin McKernan as Paddy Tally heads for the Kingdom

Paddy Tally has swapped the Kingdom of Mourne for the Kingdom of Kerry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Paddy Tally has swapped the Kingdom of Mourne for the Kingdom of Kerry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin. Paddy Tally has swapped the Kingdom of Mourne for the Kingdom of Kerry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.

DOWN’S loss is Kerry’s gain, said Mourne county stalwart Kevin McKernan after it was confirmed that Paddy Tally would be a part of Jack O’Connor’s management team at the Kingdom.

O’Connor’s appointment for a third stint with Kerry was ratified on Monday night and Tyrone native Tally will be in his backroom set-up alongside Diarmuid Murphy and Micheál Quirke.

Tally’s three seasons with Down came to an end after a one-sided Ulster Championship loss to Donegal in June but McKernan says he should have been given another year with the Mournemen.

“It was disappointing for us to lose a man like Paddy,” said McKernan.

“We’re still waiting to see who will be taking over and hopefully that will be announced soon but as players it was very raw when we lost him. He had three years but two of them were the pandemic years and the biggest thing that Kerry will get from him is that he was meticulous in everything he did.

“His preparation for training and match days was second to none. He studies the game very well in terms of analysis and statistics and I would say his greatest day for us was actually in defeat against Mayo (All-Ireland Qualifiers in 2019).

“We should have turned Mayo over in Newry because the in-depth analysis Paddy did gave us the gameplan to compete with them. I know that he enjoys that challenge of dissecting teams and coming up with a plan to suit and that will be Kerry’s great gain.

“Bringing the knowledge he has now of the management side of things along with his coaching and analysis… There’s not too many like him around Ireland, he’s up there with the best of them so why would Kerry not ask him to go down there with all his expertise and knowledge and see if he can give them a helping hand towards what they want which is an All-Ireland. They are very fortunate to have him.”

McKernan and Tally first worked together when the Galbally clubman was part of James McCartan’s management team in 2010 (a run to the All-Ireland final which included victory over a Jack O’Connor-managed Kerry in the quarter-finals). Seven years later, Tally guided McKernan and St Mary’s, Belfast to the Sigerson Cup and he took over Down, then in Division Three, in 2019.

“He was building something really good with Down but unfortunately one or two results didn’t go his way and his tenure ended on one bad result against Donegal,” said Burren’s McKernan.

“We had a really bad day at the office and, with no backdoor, there was no way of redemption.

“As players, we would have been very happy with Paddy staying on for one more year, we felt he was going to bring a freshness to his management team that was going to show that he was willing to change a few things and make the whole set-up a bit fresher.

“Hopefully Down are going to bring in another really good man but, going into Division Two next year, the players were very happy with what Paddy was offering and we felt that another year wouldn’t have been a backward step for Down football.”

Dromid Pearses clubman O'Connor took over from Páidí Ó Sé in 2004 and led Kerry to two All-Ireland titles in a three-year stint.

He resigned after the 2006 success against Mayo but three years later he returned to succeed Pat O'Shea and once again claimed Sam Maguire success in his first year (again beating Mayo in the All-Ireland final) which included a 17-point win over Dublin in a one-sided quarter-final.