Four to become two after County SFC semi-finals
PETER Keane wasn’t answering his phone on Tuesday. And even though he had just been appointed into the biggest managerial position in Gaelic games on Monday night - and wanted by every media organisation for this thoughts - it wasn’t hard to blame the 47-year old for sticking it on airplane mode and going to ground. Like those Euromillions jackpot winners who strike gold, Keane’s life is about to change immeasurably, and if not quite for forever more, at least for as long as he wears the Bainisteoir bib as Kerry football manager.
Sooner rather than later, we assume, Keane will share his thought and ideas on getting the job and doing the job. After three years in charge of the Kerry minors - and the All-Ireland Finals and the press conferences and spotlight that brought - the Cahersiveen native, now living in Firies, is no stranger to the glare of publicity attendant with managing an inter-county team. Of course, being in charge of the minors will be nothing like being manager of the senior footballers, but Keane cuts a single-minded and authoritative and confident figure who should be able to deal with the duties and pressures that go with the job.
Throughout his three years as minor team manager Keane has carried himself with humility and dignity, which shouldn’t be seen as any sort of weakness for the big gig. The man who has established a thriving supermarket business in Killorglin - and who has a fondness for basketball games - has always been and will continue to be his own man.
Whatever the particulars of the selection process - Tim Murphy confirmed that four or five candidates were interviewed - Keane has surely stuck to his principles about being a manager and being a football man, and he will succeed or not while sticking to those principles.
“Ultimately the decision was made based on the skill-set we felt Peter Keane had,” chairman Tim Murphy said of the reasoning behind Keane’s nomination. “He obviously has a huge track record at minor level but outside of that he has assembled a formidable management team. I think the man knows it’s the sum of the parts. It’s the culmination of more than one person that will get results and I think he has a great ability to do that. That would be the primary reason.”
Chairman Tim Murphy also welcomed the names of Maurice Fitzgerald and Donie Buckley to Peter Keane’s management team as two experienced and knowledgeable football men.
On Fitzgerald, the chairman said: “From my perspective being
involved in the last two years you do get a real insight in the set-up and how it works and the fact that Maurice has been involved for the last two years and will bring a certain level of expertise that will be absolutely beneficial to Peter and the rest of the management team. I think that link is important. He’d know a lot of the players intimately, having worked with them. The combination of Maurice from the previous management and an entirely new management team will complement each other greatly.” ON highly regarded coach Buckley, Mr Murphy said: “Absolutely thrilled he is on board. Donie Buckley’s credentials are unquestioned. He brings a level of expertise that probably very few people in the county would have. The sum of the parts is really what it’s all about, and I’d be very confident that we now have a seriously strong management team.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, chairman Tim Murphy said that Keane and his men - and the Kerry players - will have to afforded some degree of patience from the Kerry team supporters as the new arrangement settles in.
“The Kerry supporters to be fair to them they are really good supporters of Kerry teams, not only the senior football team, but all the way down along. What I would say is that we were preaching for a degree of patience, and I still think we need to have a degree of patience for the new management team,” the chairman said. “There is an integration there from minor to under-20 to senior and it is not as easy as it might appear. Huge strides, I’d say, have been made in the last twelve months and it’s up to the new management team now to develop that and integrate even morew players. It will be a challenge with the spate of retirements we’ve had. It underpins and underlines the gap that has developed between the older players that have moved on and the spate of younger players that we do have. Nonetheless I’d be very confident with the management team we have that they’ve the capacity and capability of getting them to the top level very quickly.” •MEANWHILE,
it was confirmed that Joe O’Connor will not be continuing in his role as Head of Athletic Performance with Kerry GAA. Limerick native O’Connor had played an important part in setting up a strength and conditioning programme for all Kerry inter-county team from Development Squads up to the senior footballers and hurlers in 2018, but chairman Tim Murphy informed delegates that O’Connor will not be involved with Kerry GAA moving forward. “THE management is currently putting a new strength and conditioning team in place. Hopefully, that will be sorted by next week,” Tim Murphy told delegates.
“Joe O’Connor has stepped away primarily because of work commitments and the fact that he’s involved with Limerick and he has his gym business, just the physical time that he could contribute this coming year wouldn’t be the same. We met Joe two weeks ago and he stepped away from that reason.
“I think to be fair we have made huge strides on the S&C programme in Kerry, particularly this year since he came on board. He came in as Head of Athletic Development and he has a programme now that’s firmly in place. It integrates the seniors with the under-20s, with the minors all the way down to the development squads so I think the seeds are set well in terms of progression from where we are at. There’s an awful lot of ground work done, particularly this year, that the next management team and back-room can build upon.”