Kerry's best performance in Killarney since 1955

July 24th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

WHATEVER destiny awaits this group of Kerry footballers as they inch nearer Croke Park during this rain sodden summer their stunning victory over Tyrone last Saturday will be remembered when much more is forgotten about.

Let's be fair from the very start, this Tyrone side is a far cry from the teams that beat us three times in the championship over the last ten years, in fact they are only a shadow of Mickey Harte's winning sides and were fortunate to come away with just a ten point defeat. Now having said that Kerry can only beat what is put before them, and this in my opinion was one of the great Kerry displays and I will go as far as to say it was one of the best championship performance I have seen in Fitzgerald Stadium since I attended my first game there in 1955. The similarities between that day all those years ago and last Saturday are vivid in the mind's eye.

Kerry had given one of their worst ever display in the All Ireland final against Meath in September 1954 and there was uproar in the county following that final. Players and selectors were lambasted. In true Kerry style those men set out to redeem themselves that July day in '55. It was scorching hot, as was last Saturday, and the Kerry performance against Cork in that Munster final in Killarney was memorable as Paudie Sheehy and Tadghie Lyne both wing forwards kicked nine magnificent points between them. Traditional Kerry scores.

Last week Declan O'Sullivan, James O'Donoghue, Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin kicked ten magnificent points between them and reminiscent of those legendary players of long ago what we saw against Tyrone was once again the superb long range kicking as those white flags were raised. Traditional Kerry. Of course everything has changed and changed utterly in the modern game as compared with days of yore, but some things never change in relation to Kerry football. This is the real secret of Kerry.

This was without a shadow of doubt a defining game for the present squad of Kerry players. Nothing else but victory was imaginable and for me Paul Galvin's wonderfully emotional straight from the heart TV interview following the final whistle summed up in the most beautiful way possible just what it meant to the players and the massive effort they had put into the match. It was amazing stuff from the Finuge man. Just three words encapsulated everything in relation to this heart warming victory when he told the listening nation: "We are Kerry". From the word go Kerry took control of the

game, from one to fifteen they were magnificent and the two midfielders Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher won the battle for possession in both halves. Sheehan is simply a superb athlete and gifted footballer and ranged the field as the saying goes "from end to end".

The entire defence was flawless, Brendan Kealy oozes confidence, his ball handling and distribution is first class and what will please Jack O'Connor most of all was the superb discipline displayed by the six back. The basis of this win was laid in defence.

The forwards were nearly back to their brilliant best. I say nearly because they missed some very easy scoring chances in the first half and if these had been taken the game would have been well and truly over far earlier. The movement, combination and back up of each other was a joy to behold.

Kieran Donaghy's return to form was a vital part of the improvement and his distribution to those around him had really been one of the vital missing links. James O'Donoghue continues to show what a classy player he is and there is huge potential there. Last but by no means least Donnachadh Walsh – one of the unsung heroes of the side showed once again why the selectors have such faith in him.

The bottom line was the unbelieveable workrate of every player from start to finish and the fast direct movement of ball from defence to attack. It was a joy to behold and a relief not to see this slow ponderous lateral passing of the ball.

Now Clare await. Kerry will be raging hot favourites, but Jack O'Connor the mastermind with Ger O'Keeffe and Eamonn Fitzmaurice will bring the players quickly down to earth. The Banner men must not be underrated.

A new challenge, a new mind set, a new approach, a new dawning. Four massive games to be won before the mountain is conquered, but whatever happens what unfolded in Killarney last Saturday will forever remain etched in the memory. Well done to players, mentors and backroom men and women.

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