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All-Ireland winners join and depart squad as Kerry gear up for 2018 campaign

The Kingdom start out against Donegal on Sunday week.

THE MOVEMENT OF All-Ireland winners is a notable feature of the Kerry senior squad taking shape for a 2018 campaign that commences on Sunday week with a league opener against Donegal.

pjimage (5) Daithi Casey, Jonathan Lyne and David Clifford are part of Kerry squad movements. Source: INPHO

With Kerry having opted out of the McGrath Cup, their 28 January clash in Fitzgerald Stadium will be the first chance this year to test out their options.

Aside from the retired Bryan Sheehan, who departed last November after being part of five Sam Maguire triumphs, Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy confirmed today that 2014 All-Ireland winner Jonathan Lyne is no longer involved.

But the squad is open-ended and Sheehy insisted that Mikey Geaney is still part of their plans despite reports last week of his departure.

Legion player Lyne started last August’s All-Ireland semi-final replay loss to Mayo while Dingle forward Geaney started the drawn match.

2017 All-Ireland club winner Daithi Casey has earned a recall after his exploits with Dr Crokes.

“The only one that’s gone is Jonathan Lyne I think,” stated Sheehy.

“He could come into contention (later). Bryan Sheehan’s retired, Mikey Geaney is still there. That was in some paper, Mikey’s injured but he’s back rehabbing and he’s part of the squad.

“Daithi Casey is there and you’ve a lot of the U21 lads. Sean O’Shea, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan, Brian Begley, there’s a couple of other lads as well.

“Brian Begley now is playing with the Ghaeltacht next Sunday so hopefully they’ll win, they are playing Moy and he won’t be playing league games until they’re finished.”

Allianz Football League 2018 Launch Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy at today's launch. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Dr Crokes defeat in last November’s Munster club final has offered the opportunity to the Kerry management to utilise some players from the Killarney club this spring.

Casey was released from the Kerry squad at the end of the 2015 league but his form was excellent with his club last season. He hit 0-3 in the club final win over Slaughtneil on St Patrick’s Day last, 0-5 in last October’s county decider victory against South Kerry and then 0-3 in that provincial final loss to Nemo Rangers.

“Maybe clubs wouldn’t like me to say this, but when you’re training with your club it’s not the same intensity or the same hard physical training that you are doing with the county,” outlined Sheehy.

“If you get a run to Paddy’s Day, it does take you a month or six weeks to get back up to the speed so it certainly will benefit us, even though Johnny Buckley and Fionn (Fitzgerald) are injured at the moment.

“We have Shane Murphy and Daithi involved and Gavin White is involved in the squad as well but Gavin is carrying a bit of a knock.

“You don’t ever like to see a Kerry club being beaten, particularly by a Cork club but that’s the way it is.”

Daithi Casey with the cup Daithi Casey captained Dr Crokes to last year's Kerry county final success. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Much of the focus will be trained on how Kerry’s younger talents develop after the county has stitched together four All-Ireland minor wins since 2014.

Last year’s captain David Clifford will command plenty attention and Sheehy describes his scoring feats at minor level as ‘absolutely phenomenal’.

“He’s training away with the senior players at the moment, we’re back there just a short while and he’s looking good, he’s an exceptional player.

“There’s going to be awful pressure on him and we’d be hoping that we’d manage him. Eamon Fitz, I think, is very good at doing that with players but there is ferocious expectations when you see a guy, outside of the other minor games that he played, (scoring) four goals and four points in an All-Ireland minor final.

“That’s absolutely phenomenal. He is the most talked about young player in the country. He’s big and he’s strong, he’s still only 18, he’ll be 19 this month. He’s still only a kid, it’s a huge step up from minor to senior.

David Clifford celebrates with the trophy David Clifford celebrates with the All-Ireland minor football trophy last September. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Certainly (he) will get game-time during the league, there’s no doubt about that. The Kerry public can be very critical but they’re excited about him as well.

“I know for a fact that when David will play, and I hope he plays well, but if he has a poor game people will be saying ‘ I wonder is he as good as they’re saying?’

“But he’s an exceptional lad. He has talent and there’s no doubt about it. I use this word patience and they have to be patient with him.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Fintan O'Toole

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