Kerry coach Jack O’Connor read the uproar at half-time in the All-Ireland final after watching his side be outplayed by Galway in the first half of a pulsating showdown.
I was pretty animated myself at half-time,” he admitted.
“I felt like we weren’t fulfilling our potential. There were players who had more to give. We were always pretty relaxed in the dressing room at half-time. But I think today was one where we needed a little push. And we dropped a few yahoos, alright.”
O’Connor said this was the sweetest of his All-Ireland wins because they had to dig up the result.
“You are the best of all. This would never be an easy game. I’m not sure what the odds were because I’m not a bettor. But we have never taken Galway lightly.
“I thought Galway played very, very well. Perhaps the mark of favoritism weighed heavily on our lads’ shoulders, especially in the first half. I felt we were very shaky and not prepared for the ball. I think we kicked seven wides before Galway registered a wide
“So they looked like they were nailing it all at the end of Hill 16 and we were very wasteful at the other end.
“In general, I thought we were doing well. We turned Galway around. And we did very well at the kick-out in Galway. I just thought we lacked composure and just needed to be more clinical. And that was the announcement at half-time.”
O’Connor, who has now led Kerry to four All-Ireland victories in three different terms, as team boss identified the team’s mental toughness along with their ability to keep a clean sheet as key factors in their four-point win.
“It had to be ground out and we talked about it on Thursday night. There are many ways to win a game. We feel like with all the work we’ve done on the mental side of the game with the lads we can dig up a game, we can take it.
“As it turned out, that was the way. A lot of people thought this could be an easy game for us. We never got into it for a minute. We felt like we were in a dog fight.
“We referenced league games when we played and it looked like we were going to lose and we just found something in the last ten or fifteen minutes. I think there’s a lot of trust in the dressing room, a lot of trust in each other.
“We’ve been working incredibly hard on the mental side of the game this year with Tony Griffin (former Clare Hurling All Star). I just think we needed everything in the end to get across the line because that was a really good performance in Galway today.
“The big difference this year is that we didn’t concede a goal. It took a miracle goal from Cormac Costello to beat us against Dublin. That was the only goal we conceded in the league. We conceded two in the league. So any day that a Kerry team doesn’t concede, you have a big chance.
O’Connor said the win wasn’t about him.
“It’s about this group of guys. We’ve been trying to put them together since 2014. I stopped with the seniors in 2012 because we knew a new group had to come. The great 04-09 team ended here 11 years ago, I assume Stephen Cluxton put an end to them.
“We knew a new group had to be developed and whatever. That started in 2014. We didn’t think it would take eight years to go the distance today, but I know we won one with this group 14, but today comes the five-in-a-row- minors really through. We just hope it’s the start of something good.”
O’Connor revealed that veteran midfielder David Moran, who was withdrawn at half-time, was ill after the Dublin game which affected his performance.
He also said he believes the controversial incident, which saw Galway centre-back John Daly punished for holding Killian Spillane’s hand, was clear. He added that after the game he went to the spot where Clifford made the crucial conversion from the free-kick to make sure for himself how difficult the kick was.
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