BALLYEA’s Tony Griffin was part of the Kerry backroom team which steered the Kingdom to All-Ireland glory on Sunday.

Kerry ended an eight year famine for All-Ireland SFC success on Sunday when they returned to the summit of gaelic football with a 0-20 0-16 win over Galway in Croke Park. An exhibition between David Clifford and Shane Walsh saw the pair kick a combined 0-17 but Kerry’s finish where they won the final quarter by six points, proved decisive.

Former Clare senior hurler and 2006 All Star, Tony Griffin joined the Kerry set-up at the beginning of this year as Jack O’Connor returned to the hotseat for the third time. Remarkably, O’Connor has now led Kerry to All-Ireland and National League glory in the first year of his term, on three separate occasions, Sunday was the fourth time Sam Maguire was claimed under his watch (2004, 2006, 2009 and 2022).

Griffin and O’Connor worked together with the Kildare senior footballers last season, the co-founder of the Soar Foundation had previously worked as a performance coach with the Dublin senior hurlers under Anthony Daly when they ended a 72-year wait for Division 1 success in 2011 before securing an historic Leinster SHC crown two years later, their first in 52 years.

Of Kerry’s success, Tony remarked, “It’s as much about football as Moby Dick is a book about a whale but winning does feel like a good for these guys who have worked so hard and been so open to exploring new inner territory”. He said that while he missed out on winning the Liam MacCarthy during his hurling career, it was nice to get to feel Sam Maguire in what he coined “special memories shared with special people, family, friends, brothers”.

From the steps of the Hogan stand, Kerry captain Sean O’Shea lauded the contribution of Griffin in his speech. “Tony you’ve been like a best friend since you came into us, you’ve bonded with us from day one Tony, the work you’ve done has been evident today and two weeks ago coming down the stretch, we battled, we were there and we were resilient, we thank you for all the work you’ve done”.

Referencing the role of Tony following their dramatic semi-final win over Dublin, O’Connor said, “I had Tony involved in Kildare last year, he did great work and I was really, you know, determined to bring him on board. Now, it’s not easy. He lives up in Ballymore Eustace in Kildare, he has a young family and he’s a busy man, he’s an author and he does other work but the lads have really benefited from him.

“He’s a unique way of doing his work, he gets fellas bonding as a group and opening up to each other and really getting tight as a group and I think he’s done great work particularly the last day when we got a few body blows. It would have been easy enough for us to capitulate but there was just a grim determination to hang in there even though things were going against us. I think a lot of that is down to the work Tony has done with the boys”.

O’Connor added, “That’s a specialist area. There aren’t that many people in the country doing that kind of work. He’s an added advantage in that he was an inter-county hurler, an All-Star. He knows what it’s like to be in a dressing room and the subtlety of saying the right thing. Another fella who could be good in his field could go into a dressing room and say the wrong thing because he wouldn’t be used to that kind of pressure. Just to give you an example, we were delayed an hour before the Mayo game (Galway-Armagh went to extra time and penalties) and that was a tough hour because players are wired up, they’re starting to warm up and then they’re told it’s going to extra-time and they start another warm up and then it’s going to penalties. Having the likes of Tony, getting the players together, calming them down, reassuring them that everything will be fine, that’s really important and I think it’s an advantage him having been an inter-county player himself, to find the right words there”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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