Due dili­gence can see

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT -

OF all the fa­mous mi­nor teams of the last four sea­sons, this year’s side is prob­a­bly the most low pro­file of the lot. There’s this sense that – David Clif­ford aside quite ob­vi­ously – the team’s the star.

In other years names of up-and-com­ers would trip off the tongue read­ily. That’s not re­ally been the case this year (not yet any­way). Prob­a­bly quite a bit of that is down to the fact that they’ve had a rel­a­tively straight-for­ward path to the fi­nal.

Apart from a few spells here and there – against Cork in the Mun­ster semi-fi­nal, the sec­ond half against Louth and the sec­ond half against Cavan – this year’s mi­nor side have been rel­a­tively un­per­turbed on their path to the fi­nal.

You see it’s in those crunch games and crunch mo­ments that we get to know a team and know its play­ers. With­out those mo­ments – the 2015 semi-fi­nal with Cork in Austin Stack Park stands out as one where we learned a lot – we strug­gle to put them in con­text.

None of which is to say that there isn’t a hell of a lot of tal­ent in this side. There is, loads of it. They wouldn’t have got­ten as far as they have with­out it. It’s just that to truly know a team you need to see it un­der sus­tained pres­sure. Of all the things that give one pause about Kerry’s chances on Sun­day, that’s prob­a­bly the big­gest.

It might seem a bit per­verse to view that fact Kerry have won their games by an av­er­age of four­teen points as a po­ten­tial weak­ness, but if you’re to con­sider Derry’s tougher run to the fi­nal as an ad­van­tage to them (and we do), then the op­po­site must hold some value too.

None of this is Peter Keane’s fault. None of this is the play­ers’ fault. They beat what was in front of them and they beat them well. They did ev­ery­thing that was asked of them and then some.

It’s just a shame that, as they pre­pare for a fi­nal against a re­ally solid – not to men­tion bat­tle-hard­ened – Derry side, that they don’t have a real dog­fight un­der their belts. Our sus­pi­cion is they’ll be more than ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with the crunch when it comes, but un­til they do that’s all it will re­main: a sus­pi­cion.

There have been mo­ments in games when they’ve re­sponded just the way you’d want to a set-back. In the semi-fi­nal they struck back hard at Cavan fol­low­ing their sec­ond half pur­ple patch, but even then there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween hav­ing a lead re­duced and hav­ing a deficit cre­ated or ex­tended. There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween tak­ing your foot off the gas and not be­ing able or al­lowed to put your foot on it.

It’s good Kerry had that test in the semi-fi­nal, but it’s noth­ing in com­par­i­son to what Derry had to con­tend with against Dublin in

Kerry mi­nor team cap­tain David Clif­ford and man­age­ment James Fo­ley, John Dil­lon, Padraig Mur­phy, Katie Pur­till, Man­ager Peter Keane, Tommy Grif­fin, Chris Flan­nery and Colm Whe­lan at the team press brief­ing at Fitzger­ald Sta­dium, Kil­lar­ney on Wed­nes­day. Miss­ing from pic­ture is video an­a­lyst and statis­ti­cian Sylvester Hen­nessy Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin

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