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Kerry vs Derry: Oak Leaf team spirit ‘not where it needs to be’ ahead of All-Ireland quarter-final

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While Derry have navigated a turbulent summer to reach the quarter-finals, Kerry’s passage to the last eight has been much more serene.

The Kingdom, who relinquished their title to Dublin last year, beat Cork and Clare to conquer Munster before comprehensive round-robin victories over Monaghan, Meath and Louth sealed their knockout place.

McKeever admits that the smoothness of Kerry’s journey – replete with a rest weekend while Derry were battling past Mayo – to this point makes it difficult to assess exactly where Jack O’Connor’s side are.

However, the former All-Star feels Derry “owe Kerry one” after last year’s semi-final, which the Kingdom won by two points after the Ulster side let slip a two-point advantage with four minutes remaining.

“I know we went down and beat them in the first game of the league but it’s the championship that counts,” said McKeever, who started at right corner-back in Derry’s 1993 All-Ireland final win over Cork.

“Our players feel like they left that [semi-final] behind them.”

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