Preview of Kerry and Cavan in the All Ireland Quarter Final

July 30th, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

The general consensus of opinion following last Saturdays championship draw is that Kerry have got probably the most vulnerable side in the quarter final and really it would be a major shock if Cavan prevented them from advancing to a mouth watering clash with either Dublin or Cork. Cavan have not reached Croke Park for the latter stages of the championship since 1997 when a Mike Frank Russell goal helped the Kingdom on their way to a 1-17 to 1-10 victory. Incidentally all the Kerry forwards got on the scoring sheet that day and Maurice Fitzgerald topped the list with 0-7 to his illustrious name. Darragh o Se and Eamon Breen even raised white flags that August day. You can be full sure Eamon Fitzmaurice and his men will close their ears to any talk of a certain victory and they will be fully aware that this is a young lively fit good ball playing Cavan team and not to be taken lightly.

It's a no win situation really for Kerry and memories of championship defeats in Croke Park for their last three visits will have them in the best possible frame of mind.  Cavan manager Terry Hyland has seen his young troops (Cavan has won three under twenty Ulster titles in a row) perform with great flair, freshness, fitness, young legs and flamboyance so far in the championship. They have rattled up 1-15 defeating Armagh, then 1-14 against Fermanagh and showed tremendous honesty and character as they ended Derry's interest after extra time notching up 1-22 in the process. Of course they were far from impressive against London last week but you can cast a cold eye on that it is only human nature when playing a team you are 99% certain of beating then you will underperform, and that is what happened here. However the one score line Eamonn Fitzmaurice will draw his player's attention to is the Ulster semi final when Monaghan just beat Cavan by one point and we all know what Monaghan subsequently did to raging hot favourites Donegal. Enough said.

Cavan boss Terry Hyland has constantly stated that his young men "have tremendous honesty and character and you can't build that, it's either in them or not". Really that allied to their football skills has brought them to this, their biggest test of all. Their day will come in the near future with continually improving players such as David Givney, Eugene Keating, Killian Clarke, Cian Makey, their playmaker, top scorer Martin Dunne, and Damian o Reilly. Have we ever seen a Cavan side without the name o Reilly in their line up?  Kerry with a far better bench so necessary in to days game will win, and I expect to see Kieran Donaghy back in for James o Donoghue who is still struggling with that ham string injury. The biggest test I believe for Kerry will be the ability to perform to the highest standards in both halves. A second half collapse which we witnessed in the Munster final would be the greatest worry of all. Facing the semi-final against a far better side than Cavan requires right now a solid, comprehensive display which is badly needed to supply the impetus required to go the whole way.  The stakes are getting higher and higher as Croke Park beckons. So far it has been a golden summer; expectations are high in the county. Some things just never change.  

One of the big talking points in relation to the Kerry team this year has been the decision to train behind closed gates in Fitzgeralds Stadium. This conclusion was taken by the county board, manager Eamon Fitzmaurice and the management team and announced some time ago. It has been a long held tradition in Kerry going back to the opening of the Stadium in 1936 that Kerry supporters would watch the boys preparing for all the big games. However times change, nothing stands still and I for one must admit as a traditionalist was disappointed with the verdict however this old adage might put in a nutshell Eamon's values as he attempts to guide his men to All Ireland glory. "The architecture of change involves the design and construction of new patterns, or the compensation of old ones, to make everything new and hopefully more productive as possible". I spoke to the Kerry manager about this last week.

"Well Weeshie you have to make hard decisions and it's like making those decisions in relation to the team and leaving players off the first fifteen and while people might not agree with it I hope they understand that I was trying to do it for the right reasons and respect it from that point of view. It was a thing I felt strongly about when I took over and even going back to last August I said it to Patrick o Sullivan the Chairman when I met him that I was anxious to prepare behind closed doors.

Of course you have people who love to go to Fitzgerald Stadium and watch the Kerry team training and I understand that and they are good people and have been going there for years and people who I have worked with and who influenced my career and  have always been at training. But at the same time then there was another element, and a lot of what you were doing in training was going out and in particular going to the opposition camp and it was some thing I felt that if we were going to be very competitive this year we had to try and get as many inches as we could and get as many percentage points around the place as we could and i felt we could gain a bit there.

He then referred to the Munster final. "Now for the Munster final we were able to surprise a few people a bit they way we played because otherwise it would have been well known and in all the papers before hand and the element of surprise would have been gone. Maybe Cork were expecting Kieran Donaghy to be full forward and it took them until half time before they were able to handle the situation. At the end of the day I will be judged on results and I want to give the lads every possible opportunity of winning the game". Now then, who can disagree with that, certainly not I, and I have been one of those who has been a very regular attendee at training since 1955. While I miss watching the boys in training I now believe that this change is probably for the best.

Fogra; No Kerry/Cavan championship game should pass with reference to the counties historic All Ireland final meeting in The Polo Grounds New York in 1947. Cavan won and to the best of my knowledge that entire Cavan panel are now deceased and just two of the Kerry legends are still with us. Frank O'Keeffe, Johnno's father and the ever green Mick Finucane.  On behalf of Kerry Gaels everywhere we wish them well.

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