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Tomás Ó Sé: Kerry won't be All-Ireland contenders in 2019

‘I’m not going to be talking about Kerry having a chance of winning the All-Ireland. They have a lot to work on.’

KERRY LEGEND TOMÁS O’Sé doesn’t see the Kingdom in the running for the All-Ireland SFC title in 2019.

Gourmet Food Parlour 2019 HEC Ladies Football Championship Launch Tomás O'Sé: 'I'm not going to be talking about Kerry having a chance of winning the All-Ireland. I think they have a lot to work on.' Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

The five-time All-Ireland champion doesn’t see his county at the level to knock Jim Gavin’s Dublin off their throne as they bid for five in-a-row.

With a new man at the helm in Cahersiveen native Peter Keane, Kerry are facing into their National Football League campaign fresh and with plenty of youth in their ranks.

Keane, taking over from Eamonn Fitzmaurice, has developed a brilliant track record at underage level. steering the Kerry minors to three Munster and All-Ireland titles since he took charge in 2016.

With the likes of David Clifford and Sean O’Shea now established on the senior inter-county scene, O’Sé feels that it may still be too soon to put Kerry in the picture as proper All-Ireland contenders this year though.

“I think there will be pressure,” he told the media at this afternoon’s launch of the Gourmet Food Parlour HEC Ladies Football Championships.

“I think there’s always pressure, whether it’s Peter Keane or Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Even last year, I said he deserves time to bed in and give players a chance.

“Kerry are being bandied about as the team to take Dublin off their perch — if any team will — and I’m saying, ‘Where the fuck is that coming from, like?’ because they didn’t even get the chance to go against them last year?

“I’m not going to be talking about Kerry having a chance of winning the All-Ireland. I think they have a lot to work on. Kerry have to focus on the league and let Peter Keane put his mark on things. I still think there’s a couple of players coming through and there’s young players. 

“Look, you can boil it down to a couple of sentences in Kerry: the young lads coming through are doing outstandingly well. Only for them, we would have lost to Monaghan last year [in the Super 8s].

“I think the facts — and I don’t like basing things on facts — they show that Kerry were too easy to score against and have been too easy to score against.”

Peter Keane celebrates at the final whistle with Dan Murphy New Kerry manager Peter Keane. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The former Nemo Rangers player added, of the optimism in Kerry: “There is and there’s talk about Donie Buckley and what Peter Keane achieved with the minors, the relationship he had with the young players and how much time they had for him.

“There is a buzz down there, yeah, but nobody knows what’s going to happen. Eamonn Fitzmaurice got an awful amount of giving out. You could argue certain cases but the reality was that Kerry weren’t up to it. I’m not going to be naming players but Kerry were not up to it last year, they were not good enough in the latter stages of the championship.

“The Munster championship certainly didn’t help them. The league, they’ll get a better gauge of where they are.”

O’Sé also discussed the experimental new rules at length, and how he was disappointed that the controversial handpass rule was ditched ahead of the National Football League at Saturday’s Central Council meeting.

He was a leading advocate for extending that rule change in particular, and expressed his regret at the decision to scrap the idea of three consecutive handpasses and then a kick. He feels that it got an “unfair” hearing to.

“I was,” he explained, when asked if he was disappointed. “It’s not that I thought the rule would fix everything or that it would even work, but I think it was looked upon [that] it’s only going to suit defensive teams.

“It probably would but I think you have to think it out and picture the whole scene. 

“I don’t think any coaches would have an issue with saying ‘This is the rule – there’s three hand passes.’ Then after three or four or five games, I think you would see the game develop and open up, and say we have to have an outlet to kick the ball.

“I think words like ‘Don’t take a play if you don’t have to’, ‘Look up straight away’, ‘Kick it if you can’, ‘Get it out of the congestion as quick as you can’ [would have been said more]. To do all those things, you have to change the way you’re set up. Based on that argument alone, it’s not as if it’s going to [definitely] work, but I think it deserves a trial.

“The likes of Kerry didn’t play a match under it. There was a lot of counties that didn’t play a match under it.

Tomas O'Se Lining out with Kerry in 2013. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I think the managers and players were saying, ‘It’s not coming into championship, it’s just a gimmick, we’re not doing it’. There was no voice coming from the other side.”

He added, on county managers being against the introduction of the rule: “Central Council delegates went up [to the meeting]. I’d love to know how many county managers whispered into the ear, ‘This is the way it has to go.’

“I’m not giving out and I’m not harping on, ‘Oh it would have changed that’, but I think it deserved a chance. A lot of thought went into it, and thinking about it as a spectacle.

“95 per cent of the people don’t like 90 per cent of the matches. They don’t want to watch it.”

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Emma Duffy

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