Tuesday 26 September 2017

Moynihan: If Kerry can get to Croker they'll be real force

A week is certainly a long time in sport, even more so when it concerns Kerry football. Written off by many experts in the lead-up to last weekend's All-Ireland qualifier at home to familiar foe Tyrone, that match was billed by some as a final farewell to a great team.

But, not for the first time, Kerry turned the formbook on its head, by routing Tyrone (1-16 to 1-6), and suddenly Jack O'Connor's men, who had struggled badly in the championship prior to last weekend, are now being talked up as All-Ireland contenders again.

"The mood of the county has changed from that one result, and the belief will be back in the team again," Kerry legend Seamus Moynihan explained. "I don't think Kerry were as bad as people were saying before the Tyrone game, but I don't think they are as good as people are saying right now. They are somewhere in between.

"Beating Tyrone was very satisfying, the players were very much up for that match, and all 15 players, plus the subs, played well. They were up for the fight, they were very competitive and aggressive, controlled aggression.

"The three games prior to that (against Tipperary, Cork and Westmeath), they certainly hadn't performed to the level that you would expect, and you were probably picking four or five players, maximum, that were playing well.

"But after this one result, the whole mood has changed in Kerry. The belief is back again, in the fans and in the players."

The Kerry great draws similarities between this season and the '09 campaign that saw Kerry stutter before picking up form during the qualifiers and subsequently winning the All-Ireland.

"In fairness, up in Mullingar against Westmeath, Kerry played well in the second half that day when they went down six points. You could see that there were signs that they were turning a corner, no different to 2009 against Antrim," Moynihan explained.

But the Glenflesk man, who made his Kerry senior debut back in the now infamous 1992 Munster SFC final against Clare, which the Banner County won, has warned the Kingdom's current group not to take their eye off the ball.

While Kerry are the overwhelming favourites to advance to the quarter-finals on the August Bank Holiday weekend, Moynihan is urging caution.

"Years ago, I played in a Kerry team that got beaten by Clare in the Gaelic Grounds, so anything is possible. Kerry will have full respect for Clare, and they will deal with this game in a professional manner, just like they did against Tyrone," Moynihan said.

"They must get their heads right because Clare have nothing to lose. The expectation is that Kerry will progress. But football doesn't work like that. And Jack will be quick to remind the players of the game against Westmeath, so that their heads will be right for Saturday.

"You can't look beyond Clare. Kerry have a job to do now. Hopefully we'll get the same performance and same determination again, and, with the greatest respect to Clare, we shouldn't have problems if Kerry are fully focused again."

If Kerry, as expected, get past Clare and back into Croke Park, Moynihan feels that's when the Kingdom will really become a force.

"If they get over Clare, I can assure you that no provincial champion will want to draw Kerry in the quarter-finals, not now," Moynihan said. "Once they get the result on Saturday, that will get them to Croke Park and the All-Ireland quarter-finals, that's the incentive. If Kerry do that, they will be a force to be reckoned with."

Irish Independent

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