National League

Kerry far too good for Galway

March 16th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

Galway manager Joe Kernan will have had some sleepless nights following his sides very poor display at home against Kerry last Sunday. On the other hand Jack o Connor and his side line generals will have slept the sleep of the contented having seen their men turn in a superb second half display as they literally strolled to a richly deserved victory. Few would have predicted such a run away win for the Kingdom and while their display especially in the second half showed all that is great in Kerry football Galway's pathetic efforts must be taken into consideration when weighing up the prospects of the winners. I saw my first ever Kerry/Galway league game in 1957, Galway won that final, and I have seen most of their clashes in league and championship since that day long ago and this was the worst Galway team I have seen. Granted they lost the outstanding Michael Meehan after nineteen minutes and they were always going backwards after this. Nevertheless this should not be taken as an excuse because if Galway are relying on just one man to see them through then they are on a loser. 

Meehan's injury occurred as he scored the Galway goal and in doing so he collided with Brendan Kealy while Tom o Sullivan was also in close attendance. He will probably be out of action for six weeks or so. Now this incident raises a few questions which I posed here in this column when the new rules were introduced. I mentioned that as the attacker was now permitted to be in the small square before the ball entered the area we would see some heavy clashes around the goal line. And this is exactly what happened as Meehan received his accidental injury. A long ball from Garry Sice flew into the Kerry goal mouth. With his back to the goal Meehan got his fist to the ball as he backed into the Kerry goalie. The ball finished up in the net and the Galway star suffered hi s injury as he collided with the Kilcummin man directly on the goal line.  We will see more collisions such as this as the year unfolds, that is if the rule is passed for the championship. Tom o Sullivan spoke to me about the incident as he explained. "The wind was a big factor and it carried the ball very fast, I was unaware that I was so close to our goal line and I suppose we should have got our call right. However this is all about getting to know each other and learning because shortly after the goal a similar incident occurred and we handled it much better".  A very fair comment by the Rathmore Garda and I know from my own experience playing in goal for many years that it takes time to "get to know" the men in front of you and agree exactly how such situations are handled.  Brendan Kealy is looking very solid and with Ger Reidy declaring that he is unavailable the Kilcummin man is in pole position to make the goalkeeping position his own. 

It is very evident that Colm Cooper, Aidan o Mahoney, Tom o Sullivan Mark o Se and Seamus Scanlon in particular are showing marked improvement. Amazingly the hunger and appetite so important to men on the road for a long time is as strong as ever and this came shining through in that second half. Michael Quirke's great height and strength is invaluable and his confidence continues to grow as he is now on the starting fifteen.  Now it's all about training and games and most importantly of all avoiding serious injury. Kieran Donaghy ( his continued fitness is vital to the cause) and Declan o Sullivan were superb all through in their pivotal central positions.  Declan's fitness, strength, ball winning abilities, absolute commitment to the cause and his driving fearless runs into the heart of the Galway defense were something to behold. His magnificent solo run finishing with a bullet of a drive to the net early in the second half was as fine a finish as I have ever seen.  Colm Cooper also took his goal in his own special way. A beautiful pin point pass from Kieran o Leary saw Cooper finish with a delicate touch past the sprawling Galway goalkeeper. Two superb goals by two superb footballers. One blasted to the net, the other delicately dispatched. 

We wrote here last week about newcomer David o Callaghan and praised his display against Derry. Well last Sunday he was even better. When he came on in the flood light match against Cork some weeks ago and kicked two superb points we wondered was it too good to be true. Well his three points last Sunday were as good if not better. And let's not forget his best point of the day from away out on the wing was disallowed when a fussy referee dishing out cards like confetti yellowed carded Declan o Sullivan for some mystery infringement. Its early days yet for the Blenervillev man but he is a very exciting prospect. Fast, brave, elusive with a little shimmy that reminds me of the great Tom Long the selectors must be complimented on unearthing a real prospect. Adrian o Connell too and David Moran continue to show huge improvement and when the five subs were introduced it was evident that they too were hell bent on impressing the selectors.
Of course its early days yet, still as we always point out here we can only comment on what we see and what we saw last Sunday was to put it mildly very encouraging. Mayo next Sunday will answer more problems. Not alone is this league unearthing new talent but it obvious the hunger, drive, determination and most importantly the great footballing skills we have witnessed over the last decade is still there at the moment. Will it last when the championship begins? Only time will tell.

Finally well done to John Kennedy and his young under 21 men on a scintillating display against All Ireland champions Cork last Saturday. The sheer skill and determination to win was joy to behold. From one to fifteen all players were so comfortable on the ball and it was a shell shocked Cork side that left Austin Stack Park following their dethronement as All Ireland champions. Johnny Buckley at mid field reminded me of my first glimpse of jack o Shea when he began his glittering career back in the seventies. Beautiful sky high fielding, high work rate and perfect passing. Lest hope he can keep it up. However while its right to praise the youth, a word of warning. Defeat in next Saturdays outing away to Waterford and the Cork display will be quickly forgotten. Victories by our senior hurlers and Causeway Compherensive School completed a memorable weekend for the GAA clubs of Kerry.

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