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Published: 12:08 | 13/3/18

O'Keeffe sees positives in defeat

Kerry selector Ger O'Keeffe has backed the younger members of the squad to learn from their heavy defeat to Dublin in the Allianz Football League.

The Kingdom trailed the All-Ireland champions by just three points at half-time but Jim Gavin's men turned up the heat after the interval to run out 2-17 to 0-11 winners at Croke Park on Sunday to put them on course for another final appearance.

It was Kerry who started the better but their failure to score for almost 30 minutes proved costly and they proved no match for the opponents in the second half.

Of the starting line-up, six were facing Dublin at senior level for the first time and O'Keeffe believes they will learn from the experience to ensure they do not fall to a similar defeat.

“There’s an awful lot of young fellas who hadn’t played at Croke Park against the Dubs and it was their first really serious test. They will try harder now and they’ll probably say to themselves, ‘It’s something that is not going to happen to us again', O'Keeffe told the Irish Sun.

"It will be something that will stick in their minds. Rather than have a demoralising effect on the team, they know what they have to do now to match Dublin.

"The ball is in their court. They have to accept Dublin are well ahead. They have to strive to reach that level.

“Dublin scored 2-14 from play and the breaks didn’t go Kerry’s way but I don’t think there’s a 12-point difference between the teams in reality.

“I’d say Jim Gavin would understand that too.”

Kerry must now turn their attention to Saturday's Division 1 clash with Kildare and O'Keeffe wants them to come out fighting to secure their top flight status for 2019.

“Division 1 is seriously competitive and if we survive, that will be a ­serious achievement," he said.

eir Sport has live and exclusive coverage of 17 Saturday matches in the 2018 Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Coverage continues on Saturday, 17 March with defending Allianz League champions Kerry hosting Kildare at Austin Stack Park [live on eir Sport 2, throw-in 7pm], while Cork face Clare at Pairc Ui Rinn [live on eir Sport 1, throw-in 7pm].

Image: Inpho Photography/Bryan Keane

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