Tomás Ó Sé not worried about Kerry's League form
By John Harrington
Kerry U-20 Football manager, Tomás Ó Sé, has no doubts that Jack O’Connor’s senior team will be in good shape for the provincial and All-Ireland championships.
With just two wins from five matches in the League he doesn’t dispute the argument the Kingdom might be suffering a hangover from last year’s All-Ireland title win.
But he trusts O’Connor to use the break between the League and championship well to get his players up to speed.
“A hangover maybe you could argue but Kerry will have a national league and they will have six weeks to championship,” he says. “And there are teams all over the country that don’t have that gap and Kerry do. Is it fair? I don’t think it’s fair but that’s the way the provincial championship is and that is the argument that is always there.
“ So I wouldn’t worry about Kerry. Kerry will be there or thereabouts again this year. They’ll be focused on getting themselves right for championship.
“Then the argument is whether the Munster championship is as tough as Ulster or Connacht, probably not in the last number of years it hasn't been, so Kerry have a lot more time than other teams around the country and they will have more players back.
“And Jack will have them right coming up to championship so they will be there or thereabouts this year again.”
The U-20 grade might be a developmental one, but Ó Sé’s priority is to win silverware with the group he’s working with rather than prioritise producing players who can make the leap to senior inter-county football.
Kerry haven’t won an All-Ireland U-20 title since 2008, nor even appeared in a final, which is something of an anomaly for a county with their tradition of success.
“I’m not thinking of senior or anything like that in terms of we’re developing players for the seniors, we’re trying to do the best we can with the group we have,” says Ó Sé.
“I’m not too concerned about the seniors, to be honest with you, but maybe within the county that they’d see it differently, that we’d produce players or whatever, but I know all the county board lads and all that, whatever it is, you do the best you can and success is what we’re looking for really
“It has been a while since we have won it and do we want to be successful? We do of course want to be successful there. The fact that there was successful minor teams and then nothing came of it, would it be a bit of a concern? I suppose it would have to be, yeah.
“Should you have had a 20s success after winning so many minors? Possibly, yeah. The fact that we haven’t been successful doesn’t give us the right to say that we have an entitlement to win an All-Ireland. It doesn’t, like. So we’ll do the best that we can and we’ll see where we land.”
Ó Sé admits he was interested in taking on the Offaly senior manager’s role until work commitments precluded him from doing so.
He has no ambitions currently though to manage the Kerry senior footballers whenever Jack O’Connor moves on from the role.
“When the 20s job came up, and it came up after all the hullabaloo in Offaly, I didn’t see the 20s job coming,” he says.
“I showed an interest in it for a few years and nothing came of it, and as a result I didn’t even make a call or anything. No, I wouldn’t even think…it’s daunting, the pressure. Páidí was dead right years ago.
“Jack O’Connor had one blip up against Mayo…I won’t call it abuse but the pressure came straight, boom, and you’d see it because you are in the environment inside.
“It’s a tough gig. Jack is around the place long enough and he’s the right man to be in charge there, but in terms of me I wouldn’t even have the right to think about it.
“You’d always dream of playing for Kerry or whatnot and dream stupid dreams all the time, but in no way would I have ever given any serious thought to it, there isn’t a plan here, there isn’t. I’m just trying to do what I’m doing at the moment and see where it takes the Kerry 20s.”