It has been a difficult start to the season for the reigning All-Ireland champions.
Kerry were an all-conquering force in 2022, winning every competition that they took part in on their way to lifting the Sam Maguire last summer. It was always going to be difficult to maintain those standards in the current in the current campaign.
Still, Jack O'Connor would have been hoping for much better displays up to this point in the league. His team have won only two of their five games so far, sitting above the relegation places on scoring difference. There is a real possibility they could be demoted to Division 2 in the weeks ahead.
Whether this is just a blip or not remains to be seen. We have often seen defending All-Ireland champions struggle to get going early the following year, although there will be concerns in The Kingdom that this is a more deep-rooted issue.
Pat Spillane admits he may have been wrong about Kerry
Pat Spillane is worried that he may have overhyped this current team, even if they did win an All-Ireland last season.
Writing in the Sunday World, he identified quite a few weaknesses in their current squad.
Kerry were late back training, and haven’t yet caught up with the pack in terms of fitness.
Secondly, key players – like Gavin White, Brian O’Beaglaoich, Mike Breen, Diarmuid O’Connor, Stephen O’Brien, Paul Geaney and Joe O’Connor – are all absent through injury, the latter will miss the 2023 season with a serious knee injury.
But, as I have written here before, I have still to make up my mind about this Kerry team.
It was the first time I ever saw an All-Ireland-winning Kerry team fail to put in even one 70-minute performance on their way to winning the title.
Whisper it – they might not be as good as I thought they were.
Apart from the Clifford brothers, the two best players in the 2022 Kerry club and county championships were David Moran – now retired – and Paul Geaney, who is past his peak.
Centrefield is a disaster zone. Moran is proving to be irreplaceable, and teams have copped on that Kerry are vulnerable here.
Expect more of what we witnessed in Omagh. Teams will press up on Kerry’s kick-outs, forcing Shane Ryan to go long – so hitting the ball into a sector where Kerry are weak.
When the going gets tough, I don’t see enough leaders...
Apart from Adrian Spillane and, to a lesser extent Donal O’Sullivan, no other player looks capable of convincing the team management they should be in the starting XV.
Kerry will be hoping to pick up their performance levels over the next couple of weeks, securing their place in Division 1 for next season in the process.
With a hectic championship schedule ahead, they will need to get back to their best sooner rather than later.