Keane well aware of Derry threat
KERRY minor boss Peter Keane is fully aware of the threat posed by Derry to his side in this Sunday’s All Ireland minor football championship final (thrown-in 1.15pm, Croke Park).
The Ulster men have had an impressive campaign so far seeing off, amongst others, Tyrone, Dublin and Sligo along the way. Damian McElrain’s men have real credentials and genuine designs on the Tommy Markham Cup, which has made its home in the Kingdom for the last three years in succession.
“What I have seen of Derry is that they are very good,” Keane said.
“They are very solid. They have a lot of experience and they have colleges experience as well, where the likes of Clare whom we met early in the year would not have had that.
“These fellas have been around and a share of them has been involved last year. They are very physically big – they have a fella [Padraig] McGrogan who is very strong – they have [Conor] McCluskey at full-back, they have the McWilliams twins [Oisin and Lorcan], two very good players and a lad called [Patrick] Quigg who played against us last year and was very good.
“So Derry are a fine side and if you talk about storing things up – they were beaten by Kerry in an All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final over the past two years and now they are meeting us in the final.
“They will want to win this game no question about it so that they are fresh after beating the Dubs in the cauldron of a full Croke Park so they will be a huge test for us and I am expecting a battle.”
Given how strong the Kingdom seem to be up front there’s a school of thought which suggests that Derry will approach the game with a certain amount of caution. Keane, however, is unsure about that. “They may very well,” he said. “But if you look at Derry they have put up big scores along the way. They kicked 0-17 against Dublin the last day; they put up 0-18 against a much heralded Tyrone team. They posted 3-17 against Antrim, put up 1-22 against Cavan, 1-13 against Sligo so they are a free scoring team as well.”
A lot of the talk in the build-up to this game will inevitably focus on David Clifford.
“He is a fantastic player, there is no question about that,” his manager said.
“He is our captain and he has a great temperament and that is one thing you may I have heard me say about him in the past. He is a great leader for the players and he is a very good team player.
“As well as being a very good player he is an exceptionally good team player which may be sometimes lost in translation. I don’t think college has made a difference because David is just very solid individual.”
As for how Derry might choose to deal with the threat he poses?
“That is something for Derry to decide. So far different teams have done different things. All we can do is prepare the best we can to get the most out of our team, not necessarily out of one individual but out of the whole team. So we will try and deal with that in whatever way it comes.”
One area where Derry might have an advantage over Kerry is in the number of genuine, honest-to-goodness battles they’ve been involved with along the way. Kerry by contrast have won their games by an average of almost fourteen points.
“Derry has had stern challenges so they have put up big scores,” Keane continued.
“I would have felt that the game we played against Cork that night was a good test for us and don’t think that the scoreboard did the game justice. It was a cracking game and a good test for us so the problem about concluding that we have won our games easy is that you never know that until you actually get there.”
The St Marys man was reporting a fully fit squad for the game last week.