In an interview with Second Captains this week Dara Ó Cinnéide spoke about the implications of having only three All-Ireland medals in Kerry and the slightly hesitant line of questioning that follows, this suggests it wasn’t as great a return as it could have been from a career that allowed him be fourth on the list of Kerry’s all-time championship scorers.
He’s very comfortable with his three All-Irelands but others would see it as a kind of failure. There’s a talent and mentality perfect storm here. Kerry continue to produce some of the most genuinely beautiful footballers in the game — it seems unfair that say Sean O’Shea and David Clifford can come along together in the same way that Colm Cooper and Declan O’Sullivan (below) overlapped — but most importantly, also the most consistently clever technical ballers.
That willingness to firstly be a Kerry footballer above all else and then to realise that it had to be a winning Kerry footballer for it to count happens pretty quickly. Ó Cinnéide talked about that period when he came on the team first and the sort of insecurities, verbal abuse and social shunning that can come about from being a footballer in Kerry that’s not winning anything.
It’s not that Cork players of the last twenty-five years have lacked ambition individually or as a group, but they are coming from a different starting point. There’s a kickback against this, of course, and every Cork team that’s been successful has managed to convince themselves their players are as good and that there’s no reason for Kerry to be superior. Billy Morgan managed this.