Paul Geaney ready for next Kerry challenge
By Cian O’Connell
Paul Geaney sensed something was happening. Emerging players have always been introduced in Kerry, but 2019 was still slightly different.
In recent years several decorated Kerry players had stepped away from the inter-county arena so the set-up of the panel continued to alter.
That so many young footballers were exposed to Allianz League and high stakes Championship action under Peter Keane last year was important according to Geaney.
“A completely different dynamic throughout the squad,” Geaney reflects. “Maybe 30 plus got Championship experience last year, even going up to Meath in the last game (All Ireland Quarter-Final Group Phase) a couple of new guys came into the squad that day as well.
“That is definitely invaluable that experience. What is experience really at this level? It is five or six games in the Championship, that is a year of Championship, that is good experience.
“If you have 40 games in your career as an inter-county player that is a good career.
“Five games is good experience in one year. This year we will be hoping to build on that and obviously there will be more blooded this year with new guys coming into the panel.
“I'm looking forward to seeing what they add and at the latter end of the year it will be good.”
How Keane married the established performers with the promising youngsters augurs well for Kerry with Geaney also acknowledging Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s impact.
“The year before (2018) was difficult,” Geaney says. “We'd lost against Galway in Croke Park and subsequently drew in Clones [with Monaghan], and then won at home [against Kildare]. It was a strange feeling, winning a championship game but going out.
“Eamonn stepped away and there was fierce disappointment in the camp in that we'd left it like that. Peter came in with a great track record with the minors.
“Sometimes new is good - new is nearly always good unless it's forced upon you. We got a bounce, fresh voices throughout the management team. Last year, because of the early exit, we were able to get back a little bit earlier and got a bit work done.
“It continued into the League and we had a great League campaign. Things were very good at the start of last year in comparison to the start we're being dealt this year. We'll get on with it.
“Getting to the League final was great for a young squad and a new team. We got the bounce there. We might have stuttered a little early in the Championship.
“I wouldn't have said at the time that we were stuttering, I would have said we were developing as a team. When it came down to the crunch, we were at the pitch of it for the Mayo game in Killarney. From there on, we showed how good a team we are.”
On Saturday evening at GAA headquarters Kerry face Dublin with Geaney excited about the contest and the possibility that further young stars could be introduced.
“There are new faces, it is great, they are going to drive on, to try to get into that League squad for the first game here,” Geaney admits.
“It is a great nugget, to try to play against Dublin under lights at Croke Park, to try to get involved for that game.
“It is up there, it is amazing to have that as your first game of the season. It is worthy of nearly August time to have that kind of a fixture.
“Being under lights adds another dimension to playing in Croke Park. I got to train here with the International Rules squad, it is amazing to play here in that atmosphere under the lights. Any guy that gets into the squad or the squad will hopefully really enjoy it.”
Geaney is ready, willing, and able for another year on the inter-county beat with Kerry.