National League

Mayo prove far too good for Kerry in the League

March 23rd, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

A few weeks ago we mentioned here how this year would be one of the most trying years in the highly successful managerial career of Jack o Connor. When taking into consideration the fact that so many great players had departed the scene and the likelihood that Mike McCarthy would not be returning it did not take rocket science to figure this out.  And then add in the fact that many of this great team have a lot of mileage on the clock and you have the situation where the Kerry management are in many ways rebuilding a new team.  Last Sunday weeks victory away to Galway raised hopes that the desired progress was being made in sorting out the trouble areas which have arisen due to the afore mentioned retirements however defeat to Mayo last Sunday or should I say the manner of the defeat have left many worrying questions to be answered in the minds of the side line generals.

It should be said of course at the outset that what happens now in March and what occurs on the fields in four months time are two completely different kettles of fish and any discussion on Kerry's league games must be in my opinion viewed in this light. What we saw last Sunday is exactly what might be expected of Kerry at this early stage of the season.  Sluggish and heavy footed all over the field the team never showed any cohesion and team work and I really can't recall so many misplaced passes by hand and foot as the game unfolded. And then surprisingly we had the sight of Kerry players being harassed and tackled by the Mayo men which resulted in what is called in to days lingo as "turn over's". That is when a player is disposed of the ball. We even saw a few players receiving a good belt of a shoulder, stopped in their tracks and losing possession. Will all of this happen in the championship? No way.

There was no flowing moves out of defense which Kerry are renowned for and the forwards with the excepting of Colm Cooper and later Kieran Donaghy struggled to get past the excellent controlled Mayo defense.  Again it's very easy to find answers for this lack of team work and patchy displays of combination.  This was the first time that these actual fifteen players had played a competitive match together. You had a new mid field partner ship of David Moran and Anthony Maher and a new half fordward line of David o Callaghan, Brian Sheehan and Kieran o Leary so what would you expect in the circumstances. The time will be changing shortly and the long bright evenings will be with us as we leave behind the memories of snow and frost covered fields.  So it will be lots of ball work and training matches which will improve the boys a ton in relation to what we are discussing here. Paul Galvin and Donnacha Walsh both of the 100% work rate will be back and hope fully Thomas o Se so the selectors will have a few options.

 It was always going to be a huge test for the in transition Kerry side as Mayo marshaled by the canny and experienced John o Mahoney T.D.  came calling with a fine league start to their name. And for me the game they lost gave the biggest pointer of all to their good form. Beaten by Dublin they had kicked eighteen wides and whatever way you looked at this it showed that they had massive amounts of possession against the league leaders.  Brendan Kealy continues to impress in goal and one second half save from midfielder Seamus o Shea was superb. The Kilcummin man advanced, cut down the angle and with his outstretched left foot diverted the ball out for a 45. Just before this in the 58th minute Tom Parsons the other Mayo midfielder slalomed through the Kerry defense and no one within an ass's roar of him as he blasted the ball expertly to the corner of the Kerry net.

Two incidences which will I have no doubt get plenty of airing as the selectors ponder their options. The Mayo midfielders presumably on the orders of their manager kept running at the Kerry defense and this with the interduction of Conor Mortimer who kicked four magnificent points and the classy displays of Alan Dillon and Enda Varley send Mayo on their winning way.  There were positives for the Kerry selectors however and it was great to see Tommy Griffin completely out play the young white hope from the West Aidan o Shea and the up and coming Mayo star was substituted in the second half. Anthony Maher too impressed greatly at mid field and some of his high fielding was wonderful to watch. Now can he avoid injury, get fitter and stake a place on the team?  Mark o Se, Declan o Sullivan and Colm Cooper will continue to improve as the months go by. Seamus Scanlon I feel needs every minute of every game as the Currow man will I have no doubt man the mid field spot when the sun is high in the sky and championship fever begins to bite.  I have heard mutterings that Kieran Donaghy should be moved to mid field, however I believe this would be to the detriment of the forwards. He is still the best full fordward in the game in my opinion. Is he the best mid fielder in the game? no way because he doesn't play there? Play your best player in HIS best position.

Mayo was a great wake up call, nevertheless it's very easy to be a hurler on the ditch and talk doom and gloom. You write off Kerry at your peril. There is a lot of work, planning and fine tuning to be done before a settled team is reached. This and here I mean deciding on a settled team, is the greatest test of all. More lessons will be learned against Tyrone next Sunday.  The league is all about this. Kerry will be judged in the championship, nothing else. And then there is one nagging doubt that no one can answer until the day of reckoning comes. Will the massive amount of mileage some of these players have clocked up in the last glorious decade of Kerry success eventually tell on tiring bodies? We hope not. One thing is certain however and that is everyone involved in Kerry senior set up will give every last ounce of their sweat and blood for the cause. These are men who are dedicated to the cause, as good if not better than any of their predecessors.  It's a fascinating task for Jack o Connor, Ger o Keeffe and Eamon Fitzmaurice.  We wish them well as the championship looms because all that matters is the championship.

Fogra: Beaufort lost a great GAA son last week with the sudden death of Mossy Breen (Shanacloon).  An exemplary Kerry man his life and soul were his family Beaufort and the GAA. To his heart broken wife Kay, daughters Marie and Paula and extended family we extend our deepest sympathies.

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