Kerry keeper Stackpoole hails influence of Brendan Cummins
By John Harrington
The way Kerry goalkeeper and captain Martin Stackpoole sees it, he couldn’t be in a better place right now to learn his trade.
Legendary Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins is current both goalkeeping coach and selector with the Kerry hurlers, and Stackpoole has felt the benefit of working with the famously fastidious Ballybacon man.
"He's been a massive influence,” said Stackpoole. “It's the small little things that he sees. He is the number one man really when it comes to goalkeeping.
“Any goalkeeper in the country would want him as his coach. He just has a great presence about him and he's going to make a great manager some day.
“He always knows the right thing to say. You think you know everything, but there are small little things that he can always pick out that will make you better.”
Kerry begin their McDonagh Cup campaign with a tricky trip to Antrim tomorrow, and Stackpoole feels the result could be the making or breaking of them.
“The most important match is the first one,” he said. “If you win that you get a bit of momentum but if you lose it then you're chasing your tail.
“The McDonagh Cup is extremely competitive this year, there's no room for error at all. You'd be a brave man to call a winner at this stage.
“Every game is extremely tough. We're on the same level and I think we're all making each other better.
“You see Carlow winning it last year and then they go and get a draw with Carlow in teh League this year. They're coming and that gives the rest of us great hope.
“We would have seen ourselves on the same level as Carlow last year so there's no reason why we can't do the same with a bit of effort.
“I think we're in a good place. We're looking forward to Saturday now just to get out there and play and hopefully perform and get the result.
“The ultimate ambition is to win the McDonagh Cup and get to the All-Ireland Championship. You want to be playing at the highest level, that's why you make the sacrifices and put in the hard work.”
In a competition of very fine margins, Kerry will hope that in-form attacker Shane Conway can make the vital difference for them in the McDonagh Cup.
He shot the lights out for UCC during their victorious Fitzgibbon Cup campaign, and is now recognised as one of the best forwards in the game at any level.
“The likes of Shane Conway playing Fitzgibbon, it's great for young fellas to be looking up to him,” said Stackpoole.
“It's great to see him do what he's done with UCC because we know how good he is down here. I'm the same club as him and I'm watching him week in, week out.
“I know what he can do but now he's doing it on a bigger stage and I think the whole country knows about him now at this stage. He's going to be a marked man in the Joe McDonagh now, but maybe that will give other boys the opportunity to stand up.”