Stephen O’Brien says Kerry must help ease pressure off David Clifford

Kerry forward Stephen O’Brien says he is a fan of the structure of the football championship as Kerry get their Munster football championship underway against rivals Cork.

After finishing third in the Allianz League and just missing out on the Division One final, Kerry begin their quest to an All Ireland after losing the 2023 final to Dublin.

While much has been made of a quick turnaround for certain teams after the league campaign, O’Brien backs the quicker turnaround for games.

“I think it is way better really. When I started playing, this would have been club month, we would have gone back to the clubs for a few weeks for championship games while training with Kerry.

“It is nice just to be focusing on Kerry for the moment, and you know when you do get to Kenmare you can give your focus to that later on in the year.

“I think it is perfect at the moment. Most weeks you have two weeks before championship games, I think only once last year we had to play on consecutive weekend’s, so that’s a perfect amount for a player really.

“You have enough recovery from the championship game you have just played, you can get your head right, you have a week’s training, and head into the game.”

Having won 10 out of the last 11 Munster titles, Kerry’s dominance in the province has been used as an example by some as to why provincials may not have the same excitement as years gone by.

However, Kerry only have to look back to 2020, when Cork recorded a famous victory in the Munster semi-final to show what a shock would mean to the rebel county.

For O’Brien, the chance for victory over Kerry’s biggest rivals is all the motivation they need for the provincial championship.

“It is a major competition. Especially with the Cork game, that is traditionally Kerry’s biggest rivals growing up, you always want to play against Cork and test yourself against them.

“The provincial championship as a whole, that is for other people to discuss, you can’t really worry about it too much. We have always taken pride in Munster and our record there.”

Stephen O’Brien is one of many talented forwards in this Kerry side, with a fierce battle to make it into the starting line up. With the likes of David Clifford in your team, Kerry will always have a chance in any game.

While Clifford has shown he is capable of magic, O’Brien said sharing the workload among the Kerry forwards is a target for this season.

“We know we need lads to step up and take the pressure off the likes of David and Sean (O’Shea). Everyone is just throwing their best shoulder to the wheel to get in the best shape possible to help Kerry win the All-Ireland in 2024.

“I think we have a tendency sometimes to just put the ball in and expect David to put it over from the sidelines, which he is well capable of doing.

“I suppose we want to get more teamwork scores where more people are involved. We know then if we can get that down, we know we have the class in David and Paudie and Seanie to get those screamer scores that the defence can’t do anything about.


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