Kerry manager Jack O'Connor.
Kerry manager Jack O'Connor.

O'Connor: 'We’re just hoping it is the start of something good'

By Cian O'Connell

Kerry manager Jack O'Connor was delighted that a gifted generation of players finally recaptured the Sam Maguire Cup.

Between 2014 and 2018 Kerry won five All-Ireland minor titles on the spin with several players from those triumphs now established senior stars.

"We’ve been trying to put them together since 2014," O'Connor says. "I finished up with the seniors in 2012, because we knew that a new group needed to come. 

"The great team from 04-09 had come to an end here 11 years ago, I suppose Stephen Cluxton put an end to them. We knew that a new group had to be developed and whatever. 

"That began in 2014. We didn’t think today would take eight years to go the distance, but with that group, I know we won one in ’14 but this is the five in a row minors really coming through today. We’re just hoping it is the start of something good."

The fact that Kerry had to demonstrate resilience under pressure mattered deeply according to O'Connor.

"They’re the best ones of all," he replied. "This was never going to be an easy game. I’m not sure what the odds were because I’m not a betting man. But we never took Galway lightly. 

"I thought Galway played very very well. Maybe the tag of favouritism rested heavily on our fellas’ shoulders, particularly in the first half I thought we were very jiggy and not composed on the ball. 

"I think we had seven wides kicked before Galway registered a wide. So they looked like they were nailing everything down into the Hill 16 end, and we were very wasteful up the other end.

"In general play I thought we were doing okay. We were turning Galway over. And we were doing very well on the Galway kick-out. I just thought we were lacking composure and just needed to be more clinical. And that was the message at half-time."

Were harsh words delivered at the break?

"Possibly, yeah," he smiled. "Possibly. I was quite animated myself at half-time. I felt that we weren’t playing to our potential out there. 

"There were players who had more to give. We’ve always been pretty composed in the dressing room at half-time. But I think today was one where we needed a bit of a jolt."

Galway repeatedly posed questions, but Kerry were able to summon the answers.

"They kicked the first point of the second half and you know their game plan was working for them, but I think our fellows just showed a lot of mettle in the second half and we had the experience of the Dublin game to fall back on," O'Connor responded. 

"Dublin came back within two points of us with 25 minutes with the wind behind them and all the momentum. 

"So, I think that probably stood to us in the last 15 to 20 minutes that we had that to fall back on."