Charlie McKeever hopes minor footballers can learn from Kerry defeat

Tipperary minor football manager Charlie McKeever hopes that the five-point defeat suffered at the hands of Kerry in Sunday’s provincial will help nourish the efforts of his side in the forthcoming All-Ireland series.

Tipperary minor football manager Charlie McKeever hopes that the five-point defeat suffered at the hands of Kerry in Sunday’s provincial will help nourish the efforts of his side in the forthcoming All-Ireland series.

Tipperary minor football manager Charlie McKeever hopes that the five-point defeat suffered at the hands of Kerry in Sunday’s provincial will help nourish the efforts of his side in the forthcoming All-Ireland series.

“The fact of the matter is that we are in the home of football in Killarney playing Kerry,” Charlie McKeever told the assembled press corps at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday.

“People coming into this match were laying us as favourites, but I suppose there was a bit of gamesmanship there. At the end of the day it’s a long way to come to play a Munster final, but the experience that we will have gained out of today will help the losing team better than the winning team. I think that you have to lose to actually realise what it is.”

McKeever (Clonmel Commercials) is joined on the Tipperary minor management team by Kevin Mulryan (JK Bracken’s), Paddy O’Flaherty (Cahir) and Shane Stapleton (Golden-Kilfeacle). And, McKeever was careful not to blame the referee for Tipperary’s defeat even though James Bermingham (Cork) interrupted the contest with forty frees and also sent off the Premier’s Josh Keane for a second bookable offence in the 30th minute.

“I will say very little about the ref. We take it on the chin,” Charlie McKeever explained.

“The game could have gone either way in that second half. My view on the game is that Kerry just kicked better points than we did. We just didn’t finish well enough and that was the difference.

“In the second half I thought there was a couple of very soft ones (frees) to bring Kerry back into the lead again. Then that gap was always there when we needed to get ahead at some stage of the match,” Charlie McKeever said.

“The stats will show that our wides cost us and good finishing won it for Kerry. There was very little else between the teams other than that. On a very warm day that I thought was perfect for football, and as I say both teams tried to play football, it was a very, very fractured match. There was no continuity and we would have loved a bit of that.”

Ultimately, five of Kerry’s starting forwards scored from play while only one (Alan Tynan) of Tipperary’s starting sextet could manage a similar feat. Indeed, Tipperary also fired eight wides, dropped two efforts short and missed a penalty.

“I want to congratulate Kerry on one of their better performances,” Charlie McKeever explained.

“You can’t take away from the points that they kicked. Some of the points that they kicked were great scores. Over the game they had very few wides so no regret there in relation to how they played. There was a little bit of regret from our own end probably because it took us a while to believe in our own performance. In the second half we fought very hard and got it back level on a number of occasions,” McKeever added.

“I will remember today not for Kerry or for Tipp, but for other reasons. I think that the game was a little bit spoiled today. Given that the conditions were great and that both teams tried to play good football. I didn’t see one dirty slap in the match, but a number of key decisions didn’t go our way. In saying that you can take nothing away from Kerry - they deserved their victory today. We might try to come back at them obviously further on down the line, but it’s a learning experience with a young team. We had a number of under-16 players - four on the field at the end of the game - but we came here to win and we believed we could win.”

Charlie McKeever also refused to blame that fact that seven of his playing panel were also members of the minor hurling squad.

“All seven had trained well for both camps,” Charlie McKeever insisted.

“I thought they performed well today. I would feel that the work put into both camps was exceptional. We worked well together in terms of preparation and we have got to live with that. It is a fact of life in Tipperary. We are now a dual county rather than just a hurling county. The barriers are there and you know they are there at the start of the year and you have to plan to deal with them. We have a month now of clear water to prepare and we will be a better team in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. You could not say that today was a one-sided match and that on any given day either side could have won it.”

Kerry manager Mickey Ned O’Sullivan was keen to describe the sending off of Tipperary’s Josh Keane as harsh.

“The decision was harsh,” Mickey Ned O’Sullivan told the Tipperary Star.

“That was the referee’s decision and we have to accept it - whether it was right or wrong that is irrelevant. We were not proactive in the use of the extra man. We knew with the extra man that we could knock off the scores and that we could be economical in our scoring. We wanted to prevent Tipperary from getting a goal. So, we played a sweeper at the back and we just played safe.”

O’Sullivan was also impressed by Tipperary, a side he expects to have a big say in the All-Ireland series: “Tipperary have a great structure. They are a very strong and impressive team and they are very physically strong. In the middle of the field they are very strong. (Colin) O’Riordan there is a fine footballer.”