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Death of talented young footballer the 'predominant thought' for new Kerry manager Keane

Cahersiveen native Peter Keane has been appointed the Kerry manager on a three-year term.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

NEWLY APPOINTED KERRY manager Peter Keane says that the death of a young footballer was the ‘predominant thought’ for him on the day of his official unveiling. 

Keane was confirmed as Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s successor earlier this week, taking up the position on a three-year term along with a management team of Donie Buckley, Maurice Fitzgerald, Tommy Griffin and James Foley.

The St Mary’s clubman said it was a happy occasion for him as he prepares to take the reigns of the Kingdom, but said that he was also thinking about the death of a young player who he thought had great potential as a footballer.

“I suppose there was a vacancy and I became available, I had a minor gig and I was supposed to have a minor gig again next year,” he told reporters at the at the Kerry Centre of Excellence.

“You think about in a happy way about what is effectively my unveiling today, but there was news that broke from Killarney this morning about a young fella called Niall McGillycuddy.

“Niall McGillycuddy is a young U16 player that played with the Legion and would have played with the Sem last year and I would have been looking at this fella as potentially playing with the Kerry minors this year in 2018 but most definitely playing with the minors in 2019 because he was U-17.

He got sick a couple of months ago with leukemia and passed this morning and it’s very sad to think that there was a young fella that you were looking at when there was no senior gig or anything like that.

“That’s the predominant thought that’s in my head all day.”

Keane comes into the senior management role having guided the Kerry minors to three consecutive All-Ireland crowns to complete an impressive five-in-a-row.

He emerged as a strong contender to take over from Fitzmaurice, after the Finugue native stepped down in August following Kerry’s exit from the All-Ireland championship.

Peter Keane celebrates at the final whistle Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Keane accepts that there is a greater sense of expectation as he makes the step-up to senior inter-county management, but ultimately believes his role simply involves ‘dealing with different people.’

Kerry are seeking to reclaim the Sam Maguire for the first time since 2014 while their rivals Dublin are aiming to complete an unprecedented five-in-a-row next year. But Keane appears to be unfazed by that prospect as he focuses on assembling his squad for the 2019 season.

I suppose I haven’t even a panel picked so where would I start on that one without a panel. That’s like digging a  field and you don’t even have a shovel, we’ll get the shovel first and then we’ll start thinking about that one.

“There is not much point in me sitting here, talking about that. If you are looking at where we are last year, in 2018, we are a long way from that. We will see where we are at as a group, and take it from there.

“What success is next year, I haven’t thought about it but my priority is to sit down as a management, we’ll try and put some kind of a panel together and start cracking on from there and creating some bit of  a structure to our team, the way we want to play and see where we go from there.”

Keane refers to the appointments of his backroom team as ‘no brainers’ and appears to comfortable with the idea of bringing in some changes to the Kerry set-up.

During Fitzmaurice’s time in charge, the Kerry team trained behind closed doors but Keane says he is open to the possibility of changing that.

“I can see why it was done and there is no question about it, talking about the lad that was up the tree in Killarney a few years ago. I can understand why they did it.

“I don’t think it is hard and fast, but I wouldn’t be closing the gates all the time. Does that mean there are open on a Monday or Tuesday? I don’t know. But I certainly wouldn’t have gates locked all the time. I am open to the idea.”

With reporting by Murt Murphy

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