National League

Tyrone given a second half lesson in the skills of the game

March 11th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

Speaking to the press after the game last Sunday Mickey Harte's very obvious rage and boiling anger at his side's performance when a rejuvenated Kerry literally blew them off the Fitzgerald Stadium pitch said it all for me. He had just seen his team given a second half lesson from Kerry in all the skills of the game as they were outscored 3-7 to 0-1 and even the die hard Kerry supporters were taken aback at the massive turn around following the short whistle. Yes it was a superb performance crowned by that James o Donoghue brilliant hat trick of goals (his Legion club man the late Timmy o Leary scored four goals against Offally in the league back in 1937),  but the foundations for this badly needed win was I believe laid by one man in the first half. Brian Sheehan was back. The St Mary's Caherceiveen man was the catalyst for what was to take place as the game unfolded. Here was an All Star who possessed physical strength, magnificent kicking abilities, years of experience at the very top level but most of all allied to all of this with his return  he brought one of the most important and vital elements of all, that of leadership. From the throw in one could sense that with Brian on the field and the amount of ball he was handling and his stunning free kicking the younger more inexperienced men were responding to his promptings in all areas of the field. Yes the leadership so noticeably absence in the previous games played a huge part in this win and the longer the game went on the more the players were enjoying and indeed expressing themselves.

I have been writing in this column for a while that lack of experienced substitutions late in games were proving very costly to Kerry but last Sunday the very timely introduction of Kieran o Leary, Darren o Sullivan and Aidan o Mahoney  three men laden with All Ireland medals and tons of experienced really steadied the proverbial ship. Kieran o Leary's pin point foot passing and his ability to pick up the breaks were vital and it was great to see Darren back on the field of play following his hip surgery. Still as they say, a bit ring rusty and lacking match practice he too contributed greatly as did Aidan in seeing the side coast home in that vital closing ten minute period. And to prove the point if proof is needed in relation to experience we saw o Leary's center, Sheehan breaks the ball down and Jamso on hand to goal.

While of course its very early days yet and next weeks trip to Newbridge will pose a completely different challenge the performances of Peter Murphy at corner back, Peter Crowley and Pa Kilkenny when introduced were very encouraging and captain for the day Fionn Fitzgerald while not in my opinion in his best position at center back continues to show that he will nail down a starting place for the championship. Kerry won the second half mid field battle and its very obvious David Moran is getting better and better as the game go on. Over two years away form inter county football due to his injuries, it was always going to be a matter of plenty playing time of the o Rahillys man. Mark o Se finished the game and he too will benefit greatly from these league outings while Mark Griffin at full back was far better than against Mayo, closer to his man and out in front for the ball he looked far more at ease when making a few dashing runs up field however in fairness to the selectors they are relying on him I believe to nail down the number three jersey. If so then this would be a huge bonus

Despite one scary moment in the second half when he flapped at a high center Brian Kelly looked very assured in goal and his point blank save in the first half from a Paddy McNiece shot was crucial in the run up to half time. While all games are important next Sunday in Newbridge will be absolutely vital. A win here will reinforce the view that Eamon Fitzmaurice is really on the right track. The tight compact venue will be a cauldron of noise and always a very difficult place to go. A big towering full forward Thomas o Connor will be plied with ball and the passionate Kildare supporters will as I have experienced a few times in the past creative a wonderful atmosphere. The Lily Whites love their football. Kerrys improving play and class to bring home the bacon.

Fogra: Sixty years ago this year, 1954 Kerry contested the minor, junior and senior All Ireland football finals. The juniors were the only eventually winners. As I researched these games in preparation for an upcoming radio program I unearthed this amazing little piece of advice. In a preview to the minor semi final in which Kerry would play Armagh the renowned Kerryman sports editor P. F. pinned the following warning to the Kerry lads. "Against Armagh the Kerry minors will be alone, all alone. For 90% of the spectators will cheer for a Northern victory. The good of the north and those who bemoan the loss of our six counties will join in the cheers against out boys. The game as far as Kerry is concerned will be played in a "hostile" atmosphere. Let it not disturb the lads. In the case of their older senior brothers it would only drive them on. The Kerry boys should not be put off their game by the deafening cheers which will greet each Armagh flag or "the buzzing of the blue flies along the side line"; they should be warned in time. The Kerry juniors will be playing in Killarney the very same day and unlike Boyle Roche's bird the selectors can not be in two places the one time. So "call in reinforcements" for the day, capable advisors behind our teams". Great stuff from the celebrated writer of this paper. The spirit of Kerry being laid down in no uncertain manner. Back then same selectors looked after all three teams and the minors beat Armagh 4-9 to 0-6. Paddy Foleys advice was well heeded.

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