Due diligence can see
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