Collective spirit and complete dedication has brought Kerry to Croke Park

Collective spirit and complete dedication has brought Kerry to Croke Park

Beside Stephen Molumphy on the Kerry sideline is another Waterford man, Shane Briggs, who has been so impressed with their work ethic
Collective spirit and complete dedication has brought Kerry to Croke Park
1 June 2022; Eoghan Campbell of Antrim, left, and Eric Leen of Kerry during the Joe McDonagh Cup Final media event at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Collective spirit and complete dedication has brought Kerry to Croke Park
Given his Defence Forces background, Kerry hurling manager Stephen Molumphy wouldn’t be one to tolerate commitment or application in half measures. Standards are set high and meeting them is not really up for negotiation.

Now nine months into his term as Kingdom boss, the former Waterford forward cannot say enough about the dedication of the new-look Kerry panel he has put together, one that stands 70 minutes from the county’s first Joe McDonagh title.

“I think attitude is our greatest asset,” Molumphy begins. “We, as a management team, picked our squad based on the attitude of the players, that they were prepared to give 110%.

“It’s manifesting its own life now. If someone misses a gym session, the rest of the players will want him held accountable by the team at training the next night. Attitude is everything, and they will absolutely fight and die for each other out on the pitch, as they have in recent games.

“In terms of engagement from the players, we measure ourselves on our work ethic. Not tactically, not skillfully, those things are important, but we boil it down to our work ethic and they’ve given everything we’ve asked of them.”

Beside Molumphy on the sideline is another Waterford man, Shane Briggs. There was a definite curiosity on Briggs’ part when travelling across to meet the panel last winter as to how well players would gel together given the “huge rivalry” that exists at club level in the hurling pocket of North Kerry.

“Our biggest thing when we came in was that they’re all from these different clubs, but we now have to meld them into one club, one team,” said the Kerry coach and former Waterford footballer.

“That took a bit of work at the start for a number of reasons, but we now consider Kerry as tight as any club team. To see them interacting with each other and encouraging each other, I’ve seen guys doing press-ups in the tide when the tide is coming in. I’ve seen them encouraging each other on the hardest days in Currans when the wind is howling. That builds character, and it builds character together. They’ve built the team themselves.”

It’s an honesty of effort that is all the more impressive from the perspective of someone from a top tier hurling county, Briggs continued.

“From the outside looking in, you see in a lot of other counties where they have a chance of winning the Liam MacCarthy, from Waterford or Limerick, that’s actually easier to go training every night.

“Sometimes when you’re in the darkest of December, you are saying, ‘Joe McDonagh can be a slog, or it can be this or it can be that’. It’s tough. But these guys, they’ve bought into the culture, they’re a team, and we’re all going to Croke Park as a team on Saturday.

“I can’t wait for Saturday because there’s no other guys I’d prefer to go to Croke Park with.”

All that remains to be seen is whether this work ethic and togetherness can stave off a third successive Joe McDonagh final defeat.

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