WELL we survived in Division 1 of the National League after a very good win on Sunday last.
Any time a Kerry team travel to the caldron that is Healy Park in Omagh and comes away with a victory is a good day. We needed results in other games to go our way to retain our status and even though we were hanging on in the end it is good to be in the top flight for next season.
Some of the media tried to build this game up as a battle to end all battles. That, for me, was always a little over the top. Of course, there's a great rivalry between these two counties and, of course, there's been plenty of thrills and spills and controversy over the years, but at the same time, when it comes down to it, this was just another game of football and there was no incidents of a serious nature on Sunday last.
The game itself was interesting from a management side. The team had just come back from warm weather training and one could see the benefit of that. We also had, I would say, at least, twelve of our championship side lining out.
While we played with the wind in the first half and controlled the middle third of the field we looked impressive going forward. Then when we had to defend that lead and play in to the wind in the second half and we looked a little ragged. That will happen sometimes playing into a strong wind. Nevertheless the management will be bothered a bit about this.
Sometimes at this time of year players will be told to use a game as a training session and support the man on the ball from all areas of the pitch – in other words use it as a good blow out – and to me it seemed that even in the first half when we were well in command our back line were far too eager to attack. The first line of duty for any good defender is to be between his man and his own goal.
We got caught out in the first half on Sunday even though we were in ascendancy and we could have conceded at least two goals. There were times when our full-back was bombing forward playing like a wing-back. Now let me say Mark Griffin had a good game enough on Sunday even though he did make a few mistakes, but the lad is new to this level of competition and so far I like what I see.
Shane Enright has put two very good back-to-back performances together and I think the top of the ground will suit him, but we will still have to ensure that our defenders do their defensive duties – that's what a team is built on.
Sometimes you will have fellows heaped with praise by supporters and media alike based on the amount of times a fellow attacks up the field, it's great to see this, but there must be a system devised of some one dropping back to cover that space that's important and I believe if we can get our defensive frailties right we will be right in the mix come the end of summer.
We are starting to find a bit of form and I will have to revise some of my own thoughts as to where we might be before year's end. We started with a very interesting half-forward line on Sunday and I have to say here and now that Jonathan Lyne has been the find of the league.
Himself and Paul Galvin a few times on Sunday last fell back to cover when fellows from the back line came forward. Some people see young Lyne as a defender, but he can score from wing-forward and, curcially, can fall back to defend so, perhaps that's what management are looking at.
There's a view out there that Colm Cooper is best deployed on the forty and it was excellent to see him spraying passes around when we are on top, but the second half on Sunday showed me why I am reluctant to go that way. I have long advocated Kieran Donaghy for top of the right Colm for top of the left with Declan O'Sullivan at full-forward – by the way Declan was my man of the match against Tyrone closely followed by the recipient from TG4, Tomás Ó Sé, Anthony Maher and Kieran Donaghy.
Paul Galvin and all the older lads showed the appetite for the game and that was great to see.
The management can be pleased enough with their league campaign. They have unearthed a few lads and, even though they would like to be in the knock-out part of the league. Still we can look forward with a little anticipation to next year's league. Staying in Division 1 will mean a good education in next year's league as no doubt some new lads will be introduced again.
Now all eyes will be on the Munster Championship in May and that won't be long coming around. There is a bit of picking in this team and I don't envy the management. We have forwards, but getting a solid half-back line that will protect your full-back line is vital.
Do this and we could be there or there abouts before year's end.