THEY ALWAYS DO things a little bit differently down in Kerry. It’s the geography of the place.
Traditionally, they have had less influence from outside than would happen at a busy harbour town or a place in the midlands which constantly had new faces passing through.
Look right down the west coast and marvel at the differing brand of football to be found from the north down to the kingdom.
The irony, of course, is that Jim McGuinness honed his trade in Tralee before making Donegal as rigid a team that has ever graced the All-Ireland’s latter stages.
Gaelic football is now a science in many counties. Many managers could produce a checklist to be ticked off in order to achieve success. Keep the wide count down, throw in a little bit of luck and a trophy shouldn’t be too far away.
Kerry captain, Colm Cooper, would like the game played differently. The game’s most successful team still considers it more art than science. They have adapted, sure, finally tainted by the outside influence to try and bolster their defensive numbers.
“Where it’s all coming from is that teams want to be successful and they’re willing to go to whatever lengths,” Cooper told TheScore.ie.
“You have teams training at six o’clock in the morning, you have teams training in gyms, teams a training twice a day and heading for Portugal and Spain, out in the heat, to prepare. Teams are going through huge lengths to try and gain success and some teams are adopting an approach to games and putting a lot of structure into it.”
The ‘Gooch’ is no hypocrite, he knows his county can be guilty of what a predecessor in green and gold describes as ‘puke football’. With Kerry, though, you sense it is the basis of a rounded game rather than an approach lasting 70 minutes of multiple Championship outings. With Cooper leading the team out, Kerry will be striving to give value for money at a time when attendances are on the wane.
“Obviously, we’d all like to see the free-flowing kicking and expansive football because that’s a lot easier on the eye than 12 or 13 behind the ball. Hopefully, we’ll see a little bit more kick-passing and long kicking because I think that’s Gaelic football at its purest, so hopefully we’ll see a little bit more of that this year.”
The reigning Munster champions have always been the benchmark, it is they who unwittingly push other counties to greater and more punishing feats of training in a bid to bridge the gap. Amid talk of 6am training, running through the winter snow, weightlifting and warm weather training camps, Kerry this year are sticking close to their roots, says cooper.
“We’re just training away as normal at home and we’ve played a couple of club games over the last couple of months to build on the sharpness. We haven’t done anything too drastic. In the past we’ve gone travelling for three or four days to do some training, but we haven’t done it this year because we’ve had a lot of club games and we haven’t had the opportunity.
“It works for some teams and it doesn’t work for some so we’re hoping that maybe staying at home we’ll just get through our work done.”
A simplified tailor-made solution for the footballing county like no other.
- Colm Cooper has teamed up with Lucozade Sport to call on clubs to join Lucozade Sport’s Club Crusade. For more information log onto lucozadesport.ie.