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Criticism only spurred us on - O'Connor

Updated: Monday, 21 Sep 2009 21:15

Jack O'Connor believes all the doubt and criticism Kerry received only made them stronger
Jack O'Connor believes all the doubt and criticism Kerry received only made them stronger

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Kerry manager Jack O'Connor insists that the questions and doubts that surrounded his team throughout their All-Ireland campaign helped spur them on to glory in yesterday's final victory over Cork.

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The Kingdom endured a turbulent road to yesterday's final, losing to Cork in the Munster semi-final before scrapping through the qualifiers with narrow victories over Longford and Sligo.

However, despite being written off by many of the experts O'Connor's men proved their worth with a stunning quarter-final victory over Dublin and from that point on never looked back.

O'Connor said: 'There is a lot of satisfaction in this. We were being written off – fellas like Spillane now were almost feeling pity for us. But that is where you get the energy from; you get it from enjoying each other's company and trying to build it up.

'And I just felt today that we were really right coming into the game. Because there was a bit of heat on Cork after the way they had performed all year and we were coming in slightly under the radar and that suited us well,' he added.

'We had a lot of changes down the middle of the field in the centre of the team since the game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. So we had to pick the team apart and put it back together and it is difficult to do that while you are trying to win matches. You would normally do that in the league.

'We had Tommy Griffin at full back, Mike McCarthy at centre back, Séamus Scanlon at midfield, we had Declan O’Sullivan at full forward, and it is very satisfying when that comes off.

'The last couple that we won there, in ’04 and ’06, people said they were soft. Well, by Jesus, there was nothing soft about this one.'