Decision making needs improving
A FRUSTRATING display from Kerry ended in defeat for a second time in just over a week leaving them pointless in Division 1.
And it doesn't get any easier does it? After a three week break from action in which I'm sure they will get a chance to do a lot of work, both physically and tactically, they face an early season basement battle up in Mayo who themselves will be looking to get off the mark.
After this loss to Derry, Eamonn Fitzmaurice believes that his team are ahead of where they were last year and, in terms of performances, I tend to agree with him, but a key element of a good performance is your players ability to make the right decisions, on and off the ball, more times than your opposition do and on Sunday Kerry were very sloppy in that department.
As they did in Croke Park the previous weekend, Kerry started brightly and raced into a three point lead with a decent breeze at their back.
David Moran was winning his midfield battle and along with the half back line was delivering quality ball into our inside line, our finishers.
BJ Keane, James O'Donoghue and Conor Cox are all technically very good score getters, but I felt that it was in this department that making bad decisions really cost Kerry. First of all they started making very similar runs to get into space for a pass.
Early in the game they were moving in every direction and it left the Derry full-back line very exposed and gave our kickers out the field loads of options. Whatever changed in their mentality, however, led to them all making direct straight line runs towards the ball and easier to defend against.
When they did get possession they looked hurried and snapped at efforts at goal which were potential scores Kerry could have done with. With a little bit more patience and moving the ball through another few channels they could have opened up some space for a team mate to have a better chance of converting.
Derry, to their credit never panicked and started to get on top around the middle. Anthony Maher had a difficult day up against the experienced Fergal Doherty and it was the latter that won this battle of the number 8s.
Anthony will take some valuable lessons about midfield play away with him I'm sure. The most obvious one for me was that Doherty was intent on spoiling as much as he could. If he wasn't going to catch the kick out clean he was going to make sure Maher wasn't getting it either.
And where Kerry were picking up the breaks early on through Jonathan Lyne and Donncadh Walsh, Derry turned the screw here and started driving at our back line. Losing Peter Crowley after what was deemed a black card offence was a big blow to the Kingdom.
Crowley will feel aggrieved as it looked very much like he had committed to the tackle on Mark Lynch and couldn't pull out of it.
I was surprised that Aidan O'Mahony wasn't introduced around this time possibly as Crowley's replacement, especially when it was evident that Doherty was winning the physical battle in the middle third.
Aidan would have relished getting stuck in there and could have had a big influence on proceedings. Derry's long range point kicking was a feature of their play and a joy to watch, but I was alarmed at the amount of space and time they had to get those shots away.
The Kerry defenders seemed to be marking zones rather than man to man and when a defender did go to close down a Derry man he was left isolated and ended up having to go from man to man without support.
Facing a stiff wind and a point down this was a real test for Kerry and they just came up short. Again some poor decisions were at the heart of their second half display. On two or three occasions we broke through a stubborn Derry rearguard only to leave with nothing.
Brian McGuire made a fantastic run in support and found himself no more than 30 yards out when a point was on. Instead he went for a killer pass that was intercepted.
David Moran again bearing down on goal went for a shot which was half blocked down and easily saved by Thomas Mallon.
David just needed to get his head up a little and he would have seen a free Paul Geaney inside him in a better position.
On two separate occasions on both sidelines, Conor Cox and Mikey Geaney ran out over the line with the ball after working hard to gain vital possession.
A little bit more positional sense from them in those instances and Kerry were on the attack again. Instead Derry had the ball back and their confidence grew. Were these isolated incidents the reason Kerry lost? Possibly not them alone but the more times these poor decisions are made in games the more they will continue to cost us.
It's important to remain positive though. I watched the game from the terrace on Sunday and the supporters' frustration was evident.
They have to realise though that many of these players are still learning and playing now at a level that is something they would never have experienced before.
They have and will continue to improve and start turning those bad decisions into good ones.