WHO SAID THE LEAGUE ‘doesn’t matter’ in Kerry?
With 37 All-Irelands, they could be forgiven for such suggestions, which aren’t entirely true.
Whereas a county like Donegal is planning for June and not much further given their claustrophobic province, Kerry can set their compass for Croke Park on the August Bank Holiday weekend when the calendar turns each year.
Picture caption: Peter Crowley, Kerry, scores his side’s goal despite the best efforts of Donegal’s Martin O’Reilly. Picture by Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
A Munster final is a certainty and, generally speaking, Croke Park follows.
It means they can breeze through the springtime without really exerting themselves, their need to peak not at its greatest for another four or five months.
Some days, though, it means more.
Yesterday, for instance, was one of those days where the charge of not caring about League football certainly couldn’t be cast upon them.
Donegal were in town and the two sides were keen to lay a marker down. They did just that in one of the most ferocious League contests in recent times.
Alan Fitzgerald and Leo McLoone were sent off in a fractious first half with another six yellow and two black cards shown by Eddie Kinsella, the referee, who summonsed Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Rory Gallagher, the respective managers, to his dressing room at half-time.
“I think it was always going to be a battle,” said Fitzmaurice, whose team won 1-13 to 1-8.
“I think anytime you play Donegal its going to be a battle. Physically they ask you questions with the game that they play; are you up for it. They ask you questions mentally in terms of your concentration levels, so of course we expected a tough battle.”
Fitzmaurice says he ‘knew from the minute they came in’ that his team ‘meant business’ here.
There was plenty of ill feeling throughout the game, but Fitzmaurice dismissed the notion that Kerry had set out to rough things up.
The Kerry manager said: “I don’t think there was any policy by us to play a particular way, the two points were very important for us today and it was a game we had to win.
“From that point of view we are happy, if our discipline was off its something we will have to improve on.
“These things happen, I haven’t seen any of the incidents yet, I’ll have a look at the match later on now when I go home. These incidents happen. You have two teams going hard at it for two points.
“The two points are very important to us, we have only three home games and we were beaten in one of them already so it was important for us to get a win. Add it to Austin Stack Park being re-opened, we were anxious to start off with a win.
“It was important for us to win, because if we had lost the game you were looking down, and after winning the game now we are looking up.
“We have a tough away game again next weekend, we have to go to Clones and we have Cork coming here so there’s no easy game. It was important for us to win the game and the attitude in training all week was excellent.”