Seamus always believed


In true Kingdom fashion, Seamus Scanlon never doubted Kerry's ability to compete for the Sam Maguire Cup in 2014. With a number of stalwarts having stepped aside and ace attacker Colm Cooper sidelined for the year, it didn't look encouraging from an outsider's perspective at least. Throw in an average league campaign and many had written Eamonn Fitzmaurice's new-look team off before a ball was kicked in anger, but not the former midfield powerhouse:

"It was great to see them back in another All-Ireland final," says the Currow clubman, who himself garnered three All-Irelands during the course of a magnificent intercounty career that spanned 2002-2012. "Personally, I thought they were always going to be in the Top 4 at least - the semi-finals, if not the final itself. A lot of people had them written off but I knew the talent was there."

Having acted as foil to the great Darragh O Se for so many years, Scanlon is better placed than any to evaluate the outstanding performance of midfielder David Moran during the Kingdom's epic semi-final replay victory over Mayo in Limerick: "It was the best performance I have ever seen from a midfielder. He was everywhere. It was the complete performance."

For Seamus, the tireless all-action display demonstrated that gaelic football at the highest level is increasingly the domain of super-fit, young players. "It's a young fellas' game, no doubt about it. Since I left the panel two years ago, I can see the difference with each passing season. This year even more so than last year..."

At 32, Seamus has nothing but admiration for the longevity of his peers Kieran Donaghy and Declan O'Sullivan, who are of the same vintage, while 'The Gooch' is just a year younger and will hope to bounce back from his cruciate ligament injury next year.

"Kieran has done really well this year. He was struggling with injury and was under the weather for a few games but then grabbed his chance with both hands when it presented itself in the Mayo games. He saved them the first day. It was a fantastic contribution. I'd be very good friends with Kieran and I was absolutely delighted for him because he works very hard and he was under enormous pressure."

Like the rest of us, Seamus was surprised to see Donegal emerge from the second semi-final against Dublin to take their place against Kerry in the 2014 All-Ireland SFC final.

"There weren't too many who saw that result coming but they really do have the toughest defence in the country to break down. It's the best-organised defence I've seen and they are very hard to penetrate. Against Donegal, if you get a chance, you have to take it. You won't get a second chance. If you get a sight of goal, you need to bury it."

Since quitting the county stage, Seamus has become one of Kerry's biggest supporters. He still togs out at club level and remains a formidable proposition on the domestic scene.

Away from football, the former Kerry star is the longest-serving member of staff with AOS Construction in Tralee, a company fronted by Alan O'Sullivan which specialises in heating and plumbing. "I've been with Alan for 14 years now and it's going really well," he concludes. "We work all over the county and also do a bit of work around Munster. It's been a busy year and there has been a big pick-up since summer, which is good to see."