O’Mahony: Kerry keeper Ryan ‘will follow in Cluxton’s footsteps if not being better’

Killian Spillane celebrates scoring a point against Dublin.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IN THE 1986 All-Ireland final, Pat Spillane scored a crucial goal into Hill 16 to propel Kerry to an eight-point victory against Tyrone.

In last Sunday’s decider, it was his nephew Killian who raised a green flag into the same goals, almost steering the Kingdom to a famous win over five-in-a-row chasing Dublin. 

The Templenoe youngster, son of Kerry legend Tom, dropped out of the team from the semi-final but had a major say following his 45th-minute introduction for his brother Adrian and finished with 1-1. 

Killian Spillane scored a crucial goal in the All-Ireland Final for @Kerry_Official at the Hill 16 end on Sunday and we remember his uncle Pat Spillane scoring a final goal in 1986 at the very same end! Take a look back with GAANOW Rewind! pic.twitter.com/9JxGIZTitH

— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 5, 2019

Spillane was part of the Kerry minor team in 2014, helping them to the All-Ireland crown that year that sparked off their run of five minor crowns in succession. 

Of all the youngsters from those successful minor panels expected to make the breakthrough under Peter Keane this season, Spillane was way down the pecking order at the outset of the year. 

He shot to national prominence five years ago when his uncle Pat declared him the best minor in the country – as if there wasn’t enough pressure on him already with such a famous surname. 

It seemed to bother Killian little and he backed up that bold claim by scoring 0-39 during their run to All-Ireland glory. 

Spillane featured under Jack O’Connor at U21 level and was part of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s extended panel over the past few years. He germinated within the set-up and learning his trade in the unforgiving confines of Fitzgerald Stadium.

But it took Spillane a number of years to get his chance at senior level.

“I’d say Pat put the kibosh on him in RTÉ when he was talking about him as a minor and he disappeared for a few years then,” recalls Aidan O’Mahony. “It’s a big step up. He was a fantastic minor and he came in 2015.

“Training is very tough and I know myself when I came first it’s a different level. 

“What kills you is that when you come into championship you’re training so hard and in the internal and challenge games you’re not performing then because the body is just drained. 

Aidan O’Mahony teamed up with Ireland Active to launch National Fitness Day 2019.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“And it probably took him a while to get up to that level of the game or that kind of strength and conditioning.” 

He didn’t even log a minute of action during this year’s Munster campaign. He made his championship debut as a late addition to the starting team against Donegal in the Super 8s and announced his arrival by firing over three points against the Ulster champions in Croke Park. 

Spillane added a further 0-3 against Meath two weeks later but endured a quiet game in the semi-final against Tyrone, which saw him dropped for the final.

His decisive showing off the bench against Dublin brings him to 1-7 from play in his four appearances this summer.

“He always had that potential, adds O’Mahony. “I seen him playing in the club championship at home and he’s like a player playing with a new lease of confidence, it’s like the shackles have been thrown off.

“Maybe that pressure is off him now, that there was so much expected of him. Sometimes it can weigh down players. If you’re not performing and you’re coming into a Kerry senior set-up then you’ve backs that are chomping at the bit every night and they’re pulling and dragging out of you and they’re flaking you inside in games, it’s not easy.

“Because you obviously don’t want to give up your jersey either. I think he’s just coming now and there’s that air of confidence.

“It showed the last day, that goal chance. I was watching it and I said to myself, ‘If he takes two more steps, Cluxton will get down and block him.’ I think that’s the best part of his game. He’s a very intelligent young lad. He knew when to kick it the last day.

Kerry’s Killian Spillane.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“He kicked it two seconds earlier and he put it into the bottom corner, it was a fantastic goal. I think that impact role suits him as well, it opens up the game and there’s no pressure when you’re coming on then.”

Another man who has impressed O’Mahony is his Rathmore clubmate Shane Ryan. Described by Paul Murphy as a “reluctant goalie”, Ryan plays in the full-forward line with the club team and also takes their frees.  

Dublin pressed up high on his kick-outs in the drawn game but Kerry retained 17 of Ryan’s 23 restarts, including a number of high-risk short kicks.

“Shane plays outfield for us, I don’t know if he’ll outfield this year now,” says O’Mahony.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

“He’s been playing outfeld for years and he’s a fantastic footballer. We played in a couple of East Kerry finals there and he got man-of-the-match at 18, 19.

“Great confidence and he’s a very commanding goalie as well. He’d a great save from Con O’Callaghan. Plus I was behind his back for the second-half and his kick-outs were excellent because Dublin pushed up.

Dublin’s Cormac Costello competes for a high ball with Tadhg Morley and goalkeeper Shane Ryan of Kerry.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I was looking and there wasn’t much space but he got them away. I think the one went over the line which for a fella playing in his first All-Ireland final you’d be kind of saying hats off to him because there’s a lot of pressure on as well. He’s come on leaps and bounds. That’s his first year gone back into goal.”

O’Mahony also made a bold prediction regarding Ryan’s future.

“I know he’s my own clubman, but I’d have no problem saying it I think he’ll be in the Cluxton mould for the 10 or 15 years,” he said.

Click Here: Hawthorn Hawks Guernsey

“I think he’s going to have an amazing, amazing career. I think he’s the one guy that I could see that will follow in Cluxton’s footsteps if not being better. He’s just a commanding figure as well and the more he plays the more confidence he’ll get and it showed the last day.

Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan gets a short kick-out away.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“It was a thing I was watching – how good would his kickouts be? I think he was excellent. He does the free-taking for Rathmore and he can kick anything from 60 or 70 metres – he’s accurate. 

“(With) waterboys running into spaces, I’d say it’s a lot harder to hit your target. The way the modern game is now you’re trying to win primary possession at all costs every time.

“Especially bit parts in games when there’s a drawn game or a point in it. For a young lad to play the last day with that kind of exuberance in a game and confidence.

“I remember there were several times that the crowd were roaring at him to kick it out and he still took his time and got his targets. So I just think he’s a massive player for Kerry now they’ve someone like him in goals.”

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *