National League

Kerry and Colm Cooper easily dispense with Galway in Killarney

March 15th, 2011
by Weeshie Fogarty

Leaving Fitzgerald's Stadium last Sunday afternoon I kept my ears peeled as I mingled with some Galway supporters fully expecting to hear a comment such as  "give us Colm Cooper and we will play ye all over again".  A remark such as this would really have summed up this contest which really never rose to the standard one would expect from these two counties who have given us some classics in the past. Who will ever forget one of the more recent meetings? That day in Croke Park, August 9th 2008 when it rained cats and dogs and any more animals you would like to add to the downpour. It was the day the flood lights (very appropriate name for lights on such a day), were turned on for the first time in the afternoon as the skies darkened as if the end of the world was neigh. Jones Road was flooded and supporters were soaked to the skin but both counties served up a scintillating free flowing match with Kerry coming out on top eventually on the score 1-21 to 1-16. Who will ever forget that magnificent solo effort by Declan o Sullivan culminating with that crashing shot which re bounded off the post at the Canal end? Yes indeed these two counties have given us lasting memories, however last Sundays game will be remembered for just one thing. The display of Colm Cooper.

While many of the attendance were left gasping in disbelief at the magnificent skill of the Kerryman anyone who has been following his career since he first donned a jersey for his club were not one bit surprised at what they witnessed. He performs like this on a constant basis for his club and followers of Kerry training sessions will have see him displaying those audacious skills on a near constant basis. Nevertheless it is always a source of great joy and satisfaction to witness such a display and the point he kicked from near the corner in the first half under the shadow of St Finans was simply Gaelic football at its very best. Fielding a long high ball he jinked and swiveled all in one movement without it seemed not moving from the one spot and split the posts for a wonderful point.  His eight points five from play was equivalent to Galway's total.  The added honour of captaincy is certainly resting well on the slim shoulders of the Killarney man.

Following the Dublin match I mentioned here that Gooch should be more or less the target man instead of Kieran Donaghy. It took no so called "expert" to know that plan A, let it in long and high to Star was not going to work on a constant basis. So Last Sunday we saw the ball moving all over the place and being kicked in wider and lower in front to the player being plied with possession. Kieran Scanlon is slowly playing himself back into full match fitness and is a good idea not to substitute him as he needs all the playing time available. Anthony Maher and David Moran continue to via with each other as to who will be the Currow mans starting partner for the championship.  Nothing is definite here.

Before I go any farther I must say I had the unusual experience of watching this game from the Michael o Connor Terrace surrounded by the real die hard Kerry supporters. Not having experienced the terrace atmosphere for many years due to my involvement as match analysist for Radio Kerry, I am always "in the box" it was a wonderful experience. I had made a quick visit to a special family reunion in Birmingham on the Saturday; our return flight was delayed by four hours so I just made the throw in having driven from Cork. Before during and after the game it was a rich and enlightening experience to talk to the hightly knowledgeable Kerry followers, listen to their shouts as Kerry attacked or defended, wonder at their vast knowledge as they predicted the moves the Kerry selectors were about to or indeed should make and revel in the shouts and cheers and gasps of astonishment as Gooch weaved his magic spell and Darren o Sullivan knifed through the Galway rear guard with those scintillating runs time and time again and then smile at the huge roar of approval that rent the air when the supporters wonderful favourite Tomas o Se galloped up field to raise the white flag near the end. The crowd loved it  and while the game it self was low key the satisfaction of a Kerry win was evident in the constant chatter of young and old as we left the ground. I have constantly said it. Kerry supporters are the most knowledge of all and meet them, men and women in your local or on the terrace and it is a real learning experience. It would be fascinating to see such unknown die hards writing now and again on their views of the games.

Shane Enright will be very happy with his progress.  The Tarbert lad is good sturdy disciplined defender, he and Killian Young and the half back line did what was asked of them and the Eoin Brosnan experiment appears to be getting settled and better. He made some great surging forward runs during the course of the game and speed going forward from defense is going to be as vital as the ground hardens and the sun is high in the sky. 

Tomas o Flaharta has a massive job on hands and relegation appears inevitable for the tribesmen. With the exception of their new look mid field pairing of Joe Bergin and Finian Hanley, full back Colin Forde, centre back Gary Sice and forwards Cormac Bane and Owen Colcannon displays generally were very poor and really they were going around in circles while their only clear shot at goal was well saved by Brendan Kealy. However the championship will be a different kettle of fish for all counties and Jack o Connor will be glad to capture those two league points as the trip next week to Armagh will be much more testing. Now a win there would be a major boost signifying continued progress in player's fitness and all round team improvement.  Kerry played far better against Cork and Dublin, despite losing both games so it appears the better the opposition the better the response from Kerry.  The learning process goes on while across the border the Rebels are flying and their biggest problem is going to be what will be their best starting fifteen from their rich deep pool of players.

Fogra: I mentioned how I watched the game last Sunday from the terrace. The first time I stood on what was then a full grass coated terrace with no crush barriers was for the re-played Munster final of 1956. Then I saw the army man Niall Fitzgerald kick the winning point for Cork at the entrance goal in the last minute of the game. The magic, the atmosphere the expectation and the passion among supporters remains exactly the very same. I wonder how many more stood there last Sunday and had memories similar to mine of that Kerry defeat fifty five long years ago.

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