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Keane is more optimistic over GAA prospects

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Kerry football manager Peter Keane

Kerry football manager Peter Keane

SPORTSFILE

Kerry football manager Peter Keane

Barely three weeks after suggesting that inter-county teams were "hanging by a thread" in the battle with Covid-19, Peter Keane has sounded a more optimistic note about this year's championship.

In the interim, his Kerry charges have secured an Allianz Football League title after back-to-back wins in Monaghan and at home to Donegal.

And the safe organisation of those games has gone a long way to convince Keane ahead of Kerry's make-or-break Munster SFC semi-final away to Cork on Sunday week.

"I think it's been handled very, very well by the GAA," said Keane of Croke Park's very own 'Project Restart'.

"I did think it was hanging by a thread at the time. Albeit it might sound like a contradiction now that we are in Level 5, and albeit the HSE and the Chief Medical Officer are at pains to say that they don't see it as a trend yet that the numbers are dropping … but if the numbers are dropping and you are still in Level 5, then you would have to imagine that things would be very safe.

Safest

"If you go back to last April, I remember thinking that if the county league had been played in Kerry or the championship had been played in Kerry last April, it would probably have been the safest time we could have played it because numbers were very low at the time."

Keane has not detected any sense of Covid fear among his players.

"Not particularly," he said at an online Kerry press briefing. "I know myself, I wasn't sure if it would ever get off the ground, that we'd get back to playing football - but we have.

"I think the way they managed us above in Monaghan was excellent. I think equally, the way we managed the players - we had a hotel above there that opened up for us, so I think we had great security above.

"The last day again, in Austin Stack Park, the county board through the Covid officer, Liam Lynch, and our own Covid officer, Deirdre Kelly, had everything well laid out and well organised for us.

"It's obviously a lot of extra work for the likes of Colm Whelan and Eddie Walsh in our backroom logistics (team). But I suppose these are things that we all do and we do them unknown to ourselves - but we do them."

The Kerry players drove individually to Monaghan for that first game back. Asked if they had similar plans for the trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, their manager replied: "We haven't sat down about logistics yet, but more than likely that's probably what we will do."

On the injury front, Keane sounded an upbeat note about the progress of Paul Geaney and James O'Donoghue, describing their ailments as "bits of leg injuries - they'll be fine."

He added: "I think everybody is near enough. Like I said earlier, you've four sessions (remaining) and you are always worried that some fella will take a bit of a bang somewhere.

"Paul and James are coming back, we've got Jack Barry back, he had a knuckle or something. So look, you have bits and pieces but that's why you carry a panel."


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