National League

Monaghan Defeat Kerry In Tralee

March 31st, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

One thing appears to be absolutely sure in relation to Kerry's latest defeat last Sunday by Monaghan and that is Eamon Fitzmaurice's men are a long way behind some counties as regards the amount of training they have put in since they resumed following their All Ireland celebrations and trip abroad. The proof is there for all to see. Cork simply ran Kerry off the field a few weeks ago and Monaghan once they settled down and got their bearings in Austin Stack Park did like wise.

This was a very poor inept performance by Kerry and the longer the game went on the more disjointed and one dimensional they became.  So the first question we must ponder on is, are Kerry taking then league any way seriously? I don't think so. It would appear that they are in very heavy strength and conditioning and stamina training at the moment with the championship their one big objective.  What other reasons can you give as you watch players who starred last year on the march to All Ireland glory struggle to compete with opponents who appear to skip over the ground leaving the Kerry boys leaden footed and trailing in their wake? Because this is what I saw against Cork, Mayo and Monaghan in particular.

The home side were well on top for the opening twenty minutes and simply owned the ball with the driving wind at their back having won the toss they went on to kick a litany of terrible wides, ten in all, and this was to prove their eventual down fall as they went in at the short whistle just three points in front. It is generally accepted when playing with a very strong wind at you back you will need at least a seven or eight point advantage at half time so the writing was really on the wall for the Kingdom.

Nevertheless despite a power packed display by Monaghan it was Kerry's wastefulness in front of goal which was their eventual down fall.  Of course Monaghan dazzled in that second half and while I am not in the excuse business a few things contrived to help the Northerns to their first win on Kerry soil in twenty seven years. I have been loud in my admiration of Brian Sheehan's free kicking here since the league began, as most people have been. So his absence last Sunday was a big blow and when you see four different men step up to try their luck at the frees then it speaks of desperation in replacing the St Mary's man. I am always amazed that inter county squads with all the time and hours and hours of training they put in appear to rely on just one individual or indeed their goalkeeper to perfect the art of free kicking from the ground.

The black cards dismissals are worryingly building up for Kerry and when the sides were going well Alan Fitzgerald got his marching orders for a neck high tackle. Paul Geaney who was beginning to motor very well and was the appointed free kicker suffered a hamstring injury and two of the starting forwards were gone in the space of minutes.  Tommy Walsh who replaced the Dingle man continues to struggle in his efforts to get back to his best form and it might be a wise decision to see the big man play with his club in their county league games. Plenty of competitive football is what he needs now.

The big question at half time and I posed this on radio during the break was. Will Monaghan be capable of taking their scoring chances when attacking with the strong wind behind them? They answered in no uncertain fashion as they turned a superb thirty five minutes.  Fast, fresh, fit and full of movement their main man Connor McManus with four second half points, three from play, Paul Finlay, Dessie Mone, Darren Hughes and Owen Duffy who scored the crucial goal all starred for the winners.

They broke quickly from defense in flowing movements and had great purpose in their attack plying their inside men with a huge supply of low precise balls.

Kerry on the other hand in that second half was devoid of attacking ideas and found the pack Monaghan defense impossible to breech. Proof of this, one point from play in that second half. Barry John Keane did have an opportunity of a goal but fly kicked the ball wide.  And then as we witnessed against Cork desperation set in and it was long high balls into Kieran Donaghy and he was simply surrounded by a wall of Northern men and the tactic was a complete failure.

Only a few of the Kingdom men will have come away satisfied from this dismal display. Both wing backs Jonathan Lyne and Killian Young were superb, Shane Enright, Anthony Maher and Paul Geaney before he retired were others who played well in my opinion. However I doubt if there will be any great sleep lost by the selectors over this latest defeat but the biggest disappointment must be a wonderful opportunity with home venue was lost to get to the league semi-final and final.  Competitive games so important and let's not forget the further you go in the league the more money the county board receive.

The 403 kilometers five and a half hour trip to Omagh next Sunday takes on a whole new perspective. It will simply be a relegation battle with Mickey Hart's side and given the history between the two counties in recent years it promises to be a compelling dour hard fought battle before the passionate Tyrone supporters.

Their side was hammered by Donegal last Sunday and their manager and players will leave no stone unturned to gain victory over the All Ireland champions.  Certainly Omagh will be no place for the faint hearted. A massive test for the Kerry men and could yet prove to be an enormous turning point in the year.  A win up there in the circumstances would be massive. 

The big question will surround the naming of the Kerry side. Eamon Fitzmaurice usually comes up with the goods when most needed. But  facing  up once again against a packed swarming Tyrone defence the question must be asked, what style of attacking formation will he name because last Sunday it failed badly.

So early days, no panic, Kerry defeats are always a cause for great debate and discussion especially when they are All Ireland champions. Good to see Mark o Se and Darren o Sullivan back. Donnacha Walsh, James o Donoghue and Colm Cooper badly needed. And what about Aidan o Mahoney and the players who have lost form and have been dropped in recent games? There are more questions that answers but the bottom line is, Eamon Fitzmaurice must have the answers only for the championship, not the league.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom