No surprise with result or performance

February 3rd, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was as many expected, a defeat, Kerry had wintered well, enjoyed their sojourn to those far away places with sounding names and were always going to play second fiddle to Mayo last Sunday in Killarney as the National League kicked off. And so The Kingdom's record of not winning an opening round since last achieved in 1997 continues. Mayo were always going to be ahead of the home side in terms of preparation, work and fitness and the longer the game went on and the more substitutes Mayo introduced the bigger the gap appeared. Indeed when the towering figure of Aidan o Shea made his appearance it was then really that the gap in the area of fitness and preparations became even more pronounced. The big man with the Kerry parents ranged all over the field, defending and attacking with surging powerful runs literally casting Kerry men aside at will.

But it was all so different from their last meeting. Everything had changed and changed utterly. A million miles away in every aspect from that wonderful day in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick last August and that never to be forgotten All Ireland semi final re-play between the two counties. The setting between Limerick and Killarney was like chalk and cheese. Limerick, with his thousand of shirt sleeved supporters, sun beaming down on the massive attendance, ice cream men making the proverbial fortune and the air of tension and excitement palpable. Two teams trained to the peak of fitness, young Mayo and Kerry men who had literally put their lives on hold to serve up a spectacle of sheer power, skill, beauty and all that was good in our game. And Kerry prevailed against all the odds. The rest is history. Good for the soul at times to dwell on the past.

It was always going to be the chalk and cheese element last Sunday. Typical early in the year league performance, players struggling to come to grips with their first outing of the year, the simplest of passes going astray, players struggling to keep apace with their opposite number and defenders especially in the Kerry back line being left flat footed when the fleet footed Mayo men took them on.

The winner's two goals showed exactly what happens when one man is sharper, faster and slicker on the turn than his marker. Alan Freeman the full fordward skipped in along the end line in front of the dressing rooms to rattle the net low down, men trailing in his wake. Late in the second half, Kevin McLaughlin repeated the dose, rounding his marker with consummate ease to hammer the ball high into Brendan Kealy's net. Fifty, fifty balls being won by the Mayo men, nice pin point deliveries into their forwards, Michael Conroy with four lovely points, Mark Ronaldson and Alan Freeman wining the chest high deliveries. Then at the other end the Kerry forwards being so tightly policed by their tenacious defenders and been plied with a constant stream of high balls were never at the races and Rob Hennelly in the Mayo net had plenty of time to admire and wonder at the magnificence of the snow covered Killarney mountains shimmering in the early February sun shine. His net was never troubled.

The one abiding memory I came away with from last Sundays was one magnificent display of fielding by David Moran, who had a super outing, from a kick out, superb, the highlight of any Gaelic football match, and then he being surrounded and hounded by a pack of Mayo men and the referee giving a free against him for over holding. The sooner the rule is changed the better. All kick outs from the goalie must land outside the forty five yard line and if fielded in the air the man in possession can claim as they say a mark. Why don't all the managers and coaches express their views one way or the other on this? For me it's a disgrace to see a man penalized for displaying the greatest art in Gaelic Football.

Great to see Tommy Walsh back and fielding a few beauties, where is his best position? the year is long for Eamon Fitzmaurice to decide, no rush, Tommy needs to be eased back into the game.  Jack Sherwood was impressive and always in the thick of the action and Barry John Keane kicked three lovely points and was always running into the open spaces The new style Mayo jerseys were quite frankly terrible, glorified training tops and there must be a money angle there some where. Isn't there always when county boards change the jersey styles and expect the supporters to fork out their hard earned cash.

 For Eamon Fitzmaurice and his side line generals the bottom line really is, pick up a few points, stay in division one, get back to the grind stone behind closed doors, get the injures players back to training. What we witnessed last Sunday was a rusty, sluggish, lethargic group of Kerryman emerging from hibernation and post All Ireland celebrations. The journey to Croke Park had just begun. We wish a speedy to Mayo's Evan Regan who took a terrible fall in the first half.

Fogra; Kerry head for Derry next Sunday and I have vivid memories of seeing the Kingdom win the league away back in 1959 defeating Derry in the final. They played seven games to win it, Dan McAuliffe was their top scores with 0-22, next came Paudie Sheehy, 2-16, Tom Long, 3-8, Garry McMahon 3-3 and Mick o Connell, 1-8. The second round against Carlow in Tralee was unusual for the fact that Johnny Culloty for my own club played corner forward but from then on reverted to the goal where he was to remain for the rest of his career. That side that beat Carlow lined out as follows. Donal "Marcus's Neill (St Mary's), Niall Sheehy (John Mitchels), Tim "Tiger" Lyons (Cordal), Jack Dowling (Castlegregory), Tom Collins (Ardfert), John Dowling (Kerins o Rahillys), Mick o Dwyer (Waterville), Mick o Connell (Valentia) Seamus Murphy (Camp), Dan McAuliffe (Duagh), Tom Long ( An Gaeltaght), Paudie Sheehy (John Mitchels), Johnny Culloty (Killarney Legion) Billy McCarthy (Ardfert), Garry McMahon (Listowel Emmets 2-0).

Others who helped win that league and secured medals included, Dave Geaney, Jim Brosnan, Dinny o Shea, Sean Lovett, Sean Murphy, Kevin Coffey, Jerome o Shea, Tomo Burke, Paddy Hussey, Tim Sugrue.

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