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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

'They've come through, and they're just winners. These are really exciting times'

Kieran Donaghy is looking forward to the Super 8s, after Kerry steamrolled their way past Cork to claim another Munster title.

THESE ARE HEADY times again for Kerry football, as Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s young side continued their dominance of Munster on Saturday with an emphatic win over Cork to set them up for a tilt at All-Ireland glory.

Kieran Donaghy with his daughter Lola Rose Kieran Donaghy celebrates Kerry's Munster final win with his daughter, Lola Rose. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Paul Geaney found the net twice at Páirc Uí Chaoimh as Kerry, running out 17-point winners, claimed a sixth straight provincial title and now head into the Super 8s and a first meeting with Galway with all the momentum at their backs.

In recording their biggest championship win over Cork since 1938, Kerry further underlined their clinical and devastating edge in attack, as a star-studded forward line dismantled the hosts.

Fitzmaurice’s side have also made improvements defensively this term and look a well-oiled unit heading into the business end of the summer, with a mix of youth and experience proving to be a formidable blend.

“Our young fellas were brilliant again, huge for us as a group to see them in their first Munster final,” Kieran Donaghy said.

“You wouldn’t know it looking out at them. It’s huge for us going forward. The finishers came on and all had an impact which is what we want. Training is going well and we’re just trying to keep on top of it.

“They’ve come through, they’re all the winners, they’ve won two All-Ireland minors, they’ve Hogan Cups. They’re just winners. When you’re a winner like that and you’ve come into a set up as they are, as good as they are, they know how they play the game and I think minor coaching is gone to such a level now that when they come in it’s not the step up it was 15 years ago.

“Their body shape is also allowing them to come in, they’re on weights since they were 14. They’re coming in in much better shape so it’s brilliant.”

Donaghy, who came on as a second-half replacement for David Clifford, added that if the group can keep their heads down and continue to work hard, Kerry’s potential knows no bounds.

“These are really exciting times, don’t know what’s going to happen. You just hope they keep their heads down and keep working and keep getting better and keep striving to get the Kerry jersey to where it’s going to be over the next decade or two.

“They’re an exceptional bunch, four minor teams in a row coming through and the U17s out there today [Saturday], aren’t too bad either. Kerry football never really takes too much of a dip.

Stephen O'Brien celebrates scoring their first goal Stephen O'Brien celebrates Kerry's first goal against Cork. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“These boys are coming but it’s a long road as well. We have to be real as well. They have a lot of learnings over the next few weeks and hopefully that will stand them in good stead if we get through.”

Donaghy, who has now won eight Munster titles, says he is pushing hard to earn a starting place, but the 35-year-old also knows his role is to make as much impact off the bench as possible.

Looking ahead to the Super 8s phase of the championship, Donaghy said there is real excitement around the new format.

“I’m really looking forward to them,” he added.

“I think they’re going to be very exciting. You really don’t know what they’re going to throw up and that’s exciting. You don’t know where you’re going, where you’re playing. We know we have Galway in Croke Park in three weeks, which will be a belter of a game.

“In the past, we were six weeks, seven weeks after a Munster final waiting for a game and you’re going up against a crowd that were battle-hardened and it’s always dodgy for us.

“So the Super 8s are going to be outstanding and I think for the fan and the neutral in particular, there’ll be a lot of good games. Either sitting in front of the telly or going to games that are close to them.

“There’s going to be a lot of games almost like Kerry and Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds in 2014, a lot of parochial fixtures where the passion and the blood-flow will be going and the crowd will be there in big numbers in great venues.”

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Ryan Bailey

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