Keane well aware of Derry threat

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - SPORT - BY DAMIAN STACK

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.

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