Young guns delight Jack as Kerry lift blue gloom
IN Kerry, they still talk between gritted teeth of the five-in-a-row that got away. On Saturday night in Croke Park, they were in far happier mood, chiefly because no one was talking about a four-in-a-row.
Three times over the previous two years, Dublin had toppled their one-time nemesis in green-and-gold. The wafer-thin differentials (by two points, one point and one again last September) merely added to Kerry's sense of angst.
But Saturday's six-point turnaround has lifted at least some of the pall of gloom that followed last year's All-Ireland final.
"Of course you hate losing to the same opposition, especially when the margins of the losses were by a point each time (sic).
"It's always great for the confidence when you get a win up here," said Jack O'Connor.
The Kerry supremo was just as pleased by the role of his young guns in Dublin's downfall.
James O'Donoghue showed oodles of first-half energy. Fellow corner-forward Barry John Keane took up the baton during the final quarter and finished with three excellent points. At the back, meanwhile, none of the new boys looked out of place, with Shane Enright (inset) arguably the pick of Kerry's defensive wannabes.
"I thought all the young lads played very well," O'Connor enthused.
"Brian Maguire was very solid on the wing and (Peter) Crowley and Enright were very tenacious at the back. James O'Donoghue was very lively and Barry John Keane, so that's great.
"It was a great game for those young fellas to get in the month of February up in Croke Park. It's no secret we need to keep finding players," he added.
"We've had a big turnover of players since 2009, something like seven or eight new players, and if you are going to stay on the road you need to keep finding new players.
"It augurs well because those young fellas weren't overawed by the occasion tonight -- they relished it."
Perhaps just as important, looking at the summer picture, is that several of the old guys relished it too.
Tomás ó Sé mopped up a mountain of second-half ball.
Paul Galvin, after an injury-disrupted 2011, was buzzing for so early in the season.
Others have plenty of ground to make up -- notably a labouring Seamus Scanlon, Seán O'Sullivan on his inter-county comeback, even skipper-for-the-night Kieran Donaghy -- but O'Connor will settle for that, safe in the knowledge that their 'Sky Blue monkey' is off the back.