WHILE HE WAS naturally disappointed to come out on the losing side, Peter Keane heaped praise on his young Kerry players after their six-point loss to Dublin yesterday.
It was Keane’s first championship defeat as manager of the Kingdom, while a large number of his team were still in their debut campaign on the senior team.
Three times Kerry have come to Croke Park this season with silverware on the line and failed to lift a trophy – the Division 1 decider in April and both All-Ireland finals.
The sides were level at 0-10 apiece at half-time, but Eoin Murchan’s early second-half goal propelled Dublin to a 1-18 to 0-15 win.
“What I would say is that even today I would be terribly, terribly proud of the lads,” said Keane.
“They fought with their shoes on until the end and literally had to be carried out of there. Throughout the year they’ve given me the same and of course it’s disappointing we lost the league final here and we’ve lost an All-Ireland final here.
“But look that happens. There was a lot of learning. It was a year that even looking into championship, what were the top six teams in the championship?
“Dublin, we drew with. Donegal, we drew with. Tyrone, we beat. Cork we had beaten in the Munster championship. Mayo we’d beaten in Killarney.
“So there was certainly no easy route to this for a young team and you’d hope they learn from that. But by and large we’re reasonably happy but you’re not happy to lose an All-Ireland final.”
Paul Geaney takes the ball forward.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
When asked if the experience of going toe-to-toe with Dublin would stand to his players in the future, Keane replied: “You’d hope so. But look, you’re not too worried about going forward today.
“You’re just disappointed with today’s result and you worry about that in the next few weeks or months.
“If you want to put a positive spin on it, you’re thinking that but at the end of the day you’ve lost an All-Ireland final and you go away and you lick your wounds and gather yourself and come at it again next year,” he added.
He paid tribute to Dublin’s achievement after Jim Gavin’s team became the first adult side in history to win five All-Irelands in succession.
of the team
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“They’re after winning five All-Irelands in a row, it’s a historic day. No matter what was going to happen today, they were either going to win five or not win five.
“There was going to be history one way or the other. And look you have to compliment them and congratulate them on their achievement.”
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Keane refuted the idea that Kerry left their chance behind them a fortnight ago.
“I wouldn’t have felt we left it behind, right. I could see the argument.
“Dean Rock had a chance of kicking a winner at the end of it so had he scored that there would have been no leaving it behind, we’d have lost it.
“I suppose with any young team, what did we have we had 11 fellas that started in an All-Ireland for the first time. We had two fellas who came on in that game so that was 13 fellas playing in their first All-Ireland final.
“So in many ways you’d have said, ‘Jesus this is great’ because you’re getting another shot at it, another opportunity to build on it.
“Below in Kerry they totally got behind this team, even between the draw and the replay, the colours that came out, the signs that came out and the support that was there.
“They just really have been captivated by this team and the youth of them. Of course young lads were going to make mistakes but they were backing them in every which way they could. What are we here at 6pm on a Saturday evening which is a crazy time to play an All-Ireland final replay.
“They came out, you have people who will be heading home on the road tonight to Cahirciveen or Valentia Island and they won’t be home until 3 or 4 in the morning. They came out and they have supported this team in great numbers.”
And the mood in the Kerry dressing room afterwards?
“My God, what do you think?”
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