Mi­nors on the hunt for five in-a-row

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - BY JASON O’CON­NOR

GIVEN that man­age­rial ap­point­ments at in­ter-county level gen­er­ally fol­low a two year cy­cle, Pe­ter Keane and the mi­nor man­age­ment team’s re-ap­point­ment last win­ter in­di­cates that we are very much in a fa­mil­iar if some­what fresh cy­cle with the dou­ble All-Ire­land win­ning set-up from 2016 and 2017 get­ting another two year term.

The changes to mi­nor level it­self cre­ates a change of scenery as much as any Kerry man­age­rial ap­point­ment, but the Ca­her­siveen na­tive agrees that it is a blank can­vas from his pre­vi­ous term in charge in terms of play­ing per­son­nel.

“In 2016 we were in­tro­duc­ing fel­las with an eye to be­ing a part of the 2017 set-up so that those play­ers and we as a man­age­ment team would know what to ex­pect from each other in terms of what was re­quired at this level.

“The Un­der 17 change means we could not have such a pol­icy last year for this year as we went with play­ers ex­clu­sively in the Un­der 17 bracket for that side (Un­der 17) as they would be miss­ing Mi­nor for this year,” Keane said of the for­ma­tion of this year’s panel.

Hav­ing also been in­volved in the Un­der 17 side that reached the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal of that once-off event last year, Keane agrees it was a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for learn­ing about what it will be like to man­age Un­der 17 play­ers from here on out.

Ex­ams and Post-Pri­mary Games are two is­sues Mi­nor man­age­ments have tra­di­tion­ally had to deal with dur­ing time over Un­der 18 set-ups. The Un­der 17 change has made it less rel­e­vant, but Keane feels they are is­sues that could change with dif­fer­ent fac­tors each year.

“As it stands we have no play­ers sit­ting ex­ams whereas the Un­der 16½ grade in Post-Pri­mary is not to­tally com­pat­i­ble to Mi­nor level now be­cause of the six month gap be­tween the ages so it is harder to read into schools games now,” he said of the changes.

One thing that is still the same is the for­mat and while Keane’s to­tal fo­cus is on Tip­per­ary for the mo­ment he did say there is no thought on the King­dom try­ing to avoid another pos­si­ble ‘all-or-noth­ing’ meet­ing with Cork with their ap­proach to tonight’s game.

“We’re fully in­tend­ing to go up to Thurles and try to win. I can’t speak for what other mo­ti­va­tions other coun­ties might have but we would be very dis­ap­pointed if we had to go through the ‘back door’ route. The for­mat is what it is.

“The Round Robin for the Munster Mi­nor Hurl­ing is so it can repli­cate the change of for­mat to the Munster Se­nior Hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship and the matches can act as cur­tain-rais­ers.

“Tra­di­tion­ally mi­nor foot­ball has not been a cur­tain-raiser for se­nior foot­ball in Munster un­til the fi­nal any­way,” Keane pointed out.

One ex­pe­ri­ence Keane in­tends to draw on from 2016 is the pick­ing of the team cap­tain which the Mi­nor man­age­ment now have a say in with spe­cial pref­er­ence to an East Kerry player for this year only as last year’s County Mi­nor Cham­pi­ons.

“Two years ago we had the sit­u­a­tion where Din­gle had no rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the team de­spite win­ning the

County Mi­nor ti­tle in 2015. Their pref­er­ence af­ter that was for it to be a West Kerry player, but when we had no one from there ei­ther they left it up to us and that is how we went with Seán O’Shea in 2016.

“We will prob­a­bly go ‘game-by-game’ in our de­ci­sion, but it’s not some­thing we want to be very over­bear­ing for who­ever is cho­sen,” Keane said prior to the cap­tain be­ing an­nounced.

Re­cent suc­cess will make Kerry favourites for tonight in ad­vance of any ball be­ing kicked in anger but Keane warns that a night like tonight can see the oc­ca­sion be a big­ger dan­ger than the op­po­si­tion them­selves.

“This is the first time these guys will put on a Kerry jer­sey at this level and you just don’t know how they will re­act un­til you see them in the heat of bat­tle. Re­gard­less of whether you are play­ing at home or away the premise is still the same. You must have the prepa­ra­tion done and you must per­form if you are go­ing to win in the end.”

Timely thoughts as Kerry re­turn to the venue of one of the big­gest shocks seen at this level back in 2011 with Kerry’s de­feat to the even­tual All-Ire­land Cham­pi­ons in the Munster semi-fi­nal.

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