National League

Cooper and Galvin return to see off Cork in the National League

March 26th, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

Kerry's comprehensive win over age old rivals Cork last Sunday was all about collecting the two points so desperately needed as a trip to Tyrone approaches and you could literally sense the apprehension and urgency in the Kerry players as the first half unfolded. Playing before the often critical home supporters it was well into the second half before the side began to play with a bit of freedom and relaxation. And it was the interduction of Colm Copper and Paul Galvin with fifteen minutes to go that finally assured the two points to Kerry. The fact that Colm came on and played at center forward is for me very significant and maybe signals the selector's plans for him in this position as the championship approaches. He literally ran the show from here setting up Kieran D Donaghy for his first point of the league and his pin point passes continually unhinged the Cork defence while Paul Galvin looking fit and anxious for road finished one such move with a fisted point.  A good forty yards man can pull many strings and dictate the course of games. It's a vital position especially if you have a man who can supply the inside line with pin point passes and Cooper on his day is the perfect selection for here. 

While the return of the seasoned campaigners has made a huge difference in the last two games against Down and Cork Eamon Fitzmaurice will I feel be more than satisfied with the continued improvement of those younger guns attempting to cement a place on the starting fifteen. Shane Enright, Johnny Buckley, Jonathan Lyne and Brian McGuire were excellent and looking down the line these are the men who are the future of Kerry football. Fionn Fitzgerald, James o Donoghue and Peter Crowley also saw action last Sunday so whatever way you look at it Eamon Fitzmaurice is doing exactly what he promised when he took the Kerry reins, planning for the future, and he must be highly complimented for sticking to his guns.

And then we had a superb display from Mark Griffin at full back. It's an ill wind that doesn't blow some good and Aidan o Mahoney's injury has forced the selectors to place their faith in this young man in front of the excellent Brendan Kealy. A natural in this position, he has starred there with his school in former years, Kerry under 21s, and at present with his club. He has wonderful positional sense, speed to get ahead of his man, strength, good hands and last Sunday thrilled the crowd with his series of dashing clearances. Of course far bigger tests await this 22 year old six foot, thirteen stone St Michaels/ Foilmore man the Tyrone game and Stephen o Neill will test him to the limit and it will be fascinating to see if Kerry have uncovered a naturally born full back, the first in my memory for many a long day.

Anthony Maher and Johnny Buckley have are developing into a very influential pairing and a fascinating unusual little stat about Buckley, he won the throw in against Down at the commencement of that game, he did the same after  half time and repeated the feat last Sunday winning both throw inn's  high over his head. A victory over Cork, one more step along the way, lots of work to be done, Tyrone waiting, licking their lips in anticipation of banishing their deadly rivals to the second division. Omagh will be some test of this Kerry side.

So its going to be the old three card trick for referees from January next year as delegates to the GAA Congress in Derry last  weekend caused a major surprise by backing black card proposals to confront cynical fouling in Gaelic football. Hurling will not be affected by this change of rule. Now we will see yellow, red and black cards being flashed not only at intercounty games but also at club games and its here in particular that I foresee some major problems for players, management and of course referees. Now it must be said that something badly needed to be done in relation to stamping out this very cynical fouling that has become more and more prevalent in Gaelic football in recent times as coaches endeavor to find every conceivably way to frustrate the opposition. Offences that will now warrant the new black card penalty include, deliberately pulling down an opponent, deliberately tripping an opponent by hand, leg or foot, deliberately colliding with an opponent after he has played the ball and threatening or abusive language to an opponent, team mate or match official. A substitute can be brought on for the first three players in your team who get their marching orders due to the black card.

Now the bottom line for me despite comments to the contrary from the r rules revision committee is that referees are going to face some very difficulty choices as they are called to make the split second decisions in relation to the above fouls? Of course in many instances it will be clear cut as to what is a deliberate black card foul. A rugby tackle for instance will be blatently obvious to everyone. However there is a big difference between a deliberate trip and an accident trip and believe me as a former referee there is such a thing as a non deliberate foul and it is here in instances such as this that the referee will be directly under the spotlight. Common sense, sadly not always to be seen will be of paramount importance in relation to referees particularly at club level. Conditions will have a huge bearing on sending's off; I was at the county league game last Sunday as my own club Killarney Legion played Kilcummin. Conditions were very wet and the ground heavy following the recent continuous rain fall and during the game there were at least four instances where a black card might have been issued.  Would they have warranted the ultimate penalty despite the ground conditions? Debatable in my view. I am just scratching the surface in relation to this black card new rule. Visualize a junior league game some where in Kerry in the worse possible conditions with an inexperienced referee and both sides going at it hammer and tongs. Visualize yellow, red and black cars being flashed, the mind boggles. 

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