The National League got off to a poor start for Kerry on Sunday last. I don't know when it last was that a Kerry team went out and got no score in the thirty-five minutes of football. Now last week I pointed out that this was one of the games that we should be earmarking for an away win. Mayo were not great on Sunday but there was an attitude difference that I hope wasn't lost on the Management Mayo wanted to win.
We had too many fellows on the field who just wanted to play! This element is part of the make up of some of these players, and this is why we have struggled at under age level for a while.
Some of these lads are good players at there own level, they looked fine in the McGrath Cup, but division one of the National League is a different competition altogether. From what I saw I'm a little taken aback, and I believe that after last Sunday we will have to rethink our situation. We had nice forwards on view on Sunday and they came up short.
I must say I was amazed at how deep behind midfield our half forwards were playing. Also, if you are going to go with a two-man full forward line you want fellows who can win their own ball.
Now I will be fair to lads and say that conditions were poor, but that would only be making excuses for a bad display.
I know this was only the first game of the National League but what we did see was very disappointing. We were in trouble is almost every sector of the field. The full back line was in trouble all day and found it difficult to deal with the pace of the Mayo inside line who between them kicked 12 or 13 points out of Mayo's 15 points from play.
Kerry went in level at half time on the back of a good display by Maher and Buckley and one of the more positive features of the game was the partnership of Buckley and Maher, who I felt was unlucky to pick up two yellow cards.
The half forward line again played very deep so the ball being delivered to the two man forward line of Cox and Curran was going in from too far out and wasn't being won.
Mike O'Donoghue kicked two good points but drifted in and out of the game. Darran O'Sullivan tried hard but even moving him to full forward didn't suit him on the day. James O'Donoghue was the pick of the forwards on Sunday and took his goal very well.
While I will always be a critic of the short passing game I understand now why we play it. Some of these fellows can't win balls that are delivered from a long way out. This situation will have to be looked at and I have said all along that we will have to be imanagitive and brave in our selections. Are there a few more Johnny Buckleys out there? If Buckley can establish himself in the midfield that might release Bryan Sheehan to the forward line.
What if Jack Sherwood came up trumps at centre back (pity he was injured on Sunday), could this release Eoin Brosnan to full back? And what of Ambrose O'Donovan, a robust and physical player who is playing great football with his club?
It seems to me we will be relying on the old guard again this year, can we conjure up another year out of them? I don't envy the management's task here, it's a little bit bigger than even I thought.
Next week we will face the Dubs in Fitzgerald Stadium and based on what I've seen we will have our work cut out to get a result against a Dublin side that ran Cork ragged in Croke Park last Saturday night. I was impressed by Dublin and particularly the way Jim Gavin set up his team in the orthodox way.
Kildare had a good win over Donegal while Tyrone beat Down, so it's imperative that we get a win on Sunday next or else we could be facing relegation.