Killian Young still enjoying Kerry adventure
By Cian O'Connell
Killian Young is well and truly used to the deal by now. Dealing with expectation is part and parcel of being a Kerry footballer.
Regardless of the grade or competition Kerry carry high hopes into every competition. That is just the way it is, and Young, who has performed in the green and gold for a decade now admits that Kerry players just embrace the responsibility.
Tradition matters deeply in sport so it is important to maintain the standards that have been set. “Yeah, I think it is just embedded in you in your younger years, when you are coming up through the ranks even,” Young admits.
“That expectation comes at Under 16, minor, 21s, it happens regardless of what age group you play with. There is an expectation, you grow accustomed to it and you know what is expected from everyone.”
The All Ireland Quarter-Final can be a tricky stage, though. “Of course you are going out to win it, that is important aswell. From that point of view everyone's main goal and main aim is the Sam Maguire. It is ages away yet so you don't want to be overstepping the mark, you take it every game at a time.
“You learn from experiences. Over the years we have been dumped out of the Championship by the likes of Down, we were very disappointed by that.
“It was more like an ambush in one sense where we just weren't prepared, we could have been prepared a lot differently. You just want to be very careful that way.”
Satisfied with how the 2017 campaign is developing, Young takes encouragement from how the younger members of the Kerry panel are adapting. Winning the Allianz Football League was a boost.
“Yeah, it does bring confidence to certain players,” Young says. “Of course it was a big game and it was a big result. It is always going to be forgotten about, nobody knows how many League medals a certain individual has so it is something that is going to be overlooked.
“When it comes to the business end of the year in July, August or September certainly the League isn't spoken about. That form is completely irrelevant, but it does give you confidence around that time.
“It did keep a good buzz within the camp, coming into the Championship aswell it kept the spirits high and things like that. Looking back at it now it feels a long way away.”
Returning to the Croke Park arena is what Kerry wanted to do. Young is relishing the prospect. “Going to Croke Park, that is exciting, players really look forward to that,” Young acknowledges.
“You are waiting long enough to get back up there in the Championship, playing where you want to play. It is great to be at that time of the year again, when you look at the overall scheme of things the year doesn't be long going. When you look at it there isn't much left to go.”
That is why Young wants to keep making an impact with Kerry even though he feels his role hasn’t changed too much despite being one of the more established members on the panel.
"No, actually it hasn't, of course the game has changed a lot over time,” Young replies. “It has got more professional and demanding, but for me, in general, the reason I'm there for so long is because I enjoy the game so much. I love it.
“There is a passion about it, to have that opportunity to play for Kerry is something I don't take lightly aswell. I just enjoy every moment of it, try to make the most of it.
“This year has been slightly frustrating for me with injury. That normally wouldn't have happened throughout my career in the past, but I'm glad to be back now. It was good to get game time in the Munster Final, it is great, it is a good time to be back for the real business end to it.”
Decorated figures such as Aidan O’Mahony, Marc Ó Sé, and Colm Cooper have departed from the Kerry set-up, but Kerry have coped adequately so far. “I think we have dealt with it well,” Young says.
“I think a lot of players got a lot of experience in the last two years. So it wasn't as if it just happened overnight where we were looking over our shoulder at what is next. Eamonn Fitzmaurice brought players in and got game time for them players.
“I think anybody who has stepped in has very good experience already. He has used players early in the year during the League and Championship.
"It has become such a squad game now. In the past, maybe five years plus, it would have been very difficult when players of that calibre would have left the panel because you would have been highly relying on the first 15.
“Now it is such a panel effort, a lot more players have that experience so it is a lot easier to transition into the first team. So I think that has been dealt with well. So far it has worked out. There is plenty to play for in the summer so we won't take anything for granted.”
In the Munster Final triumph over Cork, Kerry introduced Stephen O’Brien, Johnny Buckley, Young, Jack Barry, Barry John Keane, Darran O’Sullivan and Jonathan Lyne as substitutes. That was a clear sign of Kerry’s considerable resources.
“It is fair to say, yeah,” Young answers when asked about the depth of the Kerry panel. “Even myself, a lot of players understand the squad effort, in what is involved, how the training can really develop you as the year goes on. It can be so competitive inside in your own games.
“It is quite good, it is a lot about the fellas that come on. Their input into a game has a massive factor and bearing on a result aswell. From that point of view there is a lot to focus on regardless if you are on the bench or the starting XV. There is a lot to focus on and responsibility on yourself to perform no matter what.” That is what Young continues to do.