Friday 24 February 2017

'Terrible' Dubs put on red alert by Gilroy

Kerry 1-14 Dublin 0-11
ALLIANZ NFL Division 1

Michael Fitzsimons and Darran O'Sullivan battle for the ball in the Allianz NFL clash at Croke Park
Michael Fitzsimons and Darran O'Sullivan battle for the ball in the Allianz NFL clash at Croke Park

DUBLIN had been warned about how their world would change as All-Ireland champions, but they still had to experience it at first-hand to understand the precise nature of the new and challenging environment.

Not all opposition will be as technically adept in laying the landmines as Kerry, but, wherever they go over the coming weeks, Dublin can expect the same level of ferocity to follow the guard-of-honour welcome onto the pitch.

Having lost their last three games to Dublin, Kerry were determined to end the sequence and achieved it more easily than the six-point margin suggests. For, in addition to scoring 1-14 on a cold Croke Park night, they also kicked 17 wides.

Dublin returned seven wides, including two dismal efforts by Diarmuid Connolly off close-range frees, but what will have really disturbed their supporters in the crowd of 45,838 was the lack of penetration in attack and the wipeout at midfield in the first quarter and throughout the second half.

Granted, the front line was without the Brogan brothers and Barry Cahill but, apart from Kevin McManamon, who scored 0-3 from play, and Tomas Quinn, who would have done a whole lot better if the supply lines were more productive, it was all fairly stodgy in Dublin's attacking half, except for the second quarter when they outscored Kerry five points to one to lead by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time.

misleading

Dublin's advantage was somewhat misleading as Kerry had kicked 12 wides. They added five more in the second half, but scored 1-9 to Dublin's 0-4.

Kerry's dominance could scarcely have been more comprehensive, which was readily admitted afterwards by Pat Gilroy, while hinting that he would have something to say to the players on the issue of work rate.

"Our effort in the second half wasn't what it should have been. We were very good in the first half. We worked hard but our use of the ball in the second half was terrible.

"The amount of balls we kicked away -- they were really unforced errors. That really knocked the stuffing out of us.

"Some of it was just silly mistakes and our work rate dropped too. Kerry got on top completely in the middle of the field in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

"Once all those things start going against you, you probably look tired. There is no question, Kerry were the better team. We have got to make that ground up," he said.

Kerry really kicked on in the final quarter, turning a one-point lead into a six-point advantage.

Darran O'Sullivan scored their goal in the 56th minute, finishing Patrick Curtin's pass smartly after timing his run to perfection.

It was all very satisfactory for Kerry on a night when they had reason to be pleased with some of the less experienced players.

Brian Maguire, Peter Crowley and Shane Enright did well alongside the more seasoned performers in defence, while, in attack, Barry John Keane and James O'Donoghue were menacing movers who stretched the Dublin defence to breaking point. Substitute Curtin also impressed too.

"All the young lads played well. They weren't in any way overawed by the occasion, in fact they relished it," said manager Jack O'Connor.

The older brigade did well, too, from Marc O Se -- surely the tidiest defender in the game -- at full-back, through midfield, where Bryan Sheehan, despite kicking five wides, was hugely effective and on to attack, where Paul Galvin and Darran O'Sullivan brought real purpose to their game.

However, the best of them all was Tomas O Se. He's very much the senior statesman on this Kerry team, but played with the verve and energy of a newcomer trying to impress his manager.

If O Se, who must have handled the ball more often than anybody else, can bring that level of performance to the opening league game, it augurs very well for his prospects of having another outstanding year.

For Dublin, who lined up with eight of the starting 15 from last year's All-Ireland final, it was a sobering introduction to the new campaign.

Gilroy justifiably bemoaned some missed chances, especially in the first half, but then Kerry were even more wasteful and should have been ahead, rather than trailing by two points at half-time.

Dublin would have been pleased by the manner in which they recovered from a three-point deficit after six minutes to restrict Kerry to a further two points before half-time, but it was all so different in the second half.

And, as things went from bad to worse for Dublin, their dismal night was completed with the dismissal of sub Eamonn Fennell on a straight red card for a wild lunge on Sheehan in the 67th minute.

Gilroy had referred to the need for better discipline last month and returned to the theme on Saturday night.

"It's an area that we clearly have to be a lot better in," he said. "Whatever chance you have with 15 men, if you are down to 14 you are going to be in big trouble.

"That's something we have to work on. I didn't see the (Fennell) incident. The referee was right beside it. I'm sure it must have been a sending off. It's a ridiculous thing for us to do. We can't afford to be doing it."

No such issues for Kerry as they headed home with their first league points.

"We were fairly rusty in the first half, but then we hadn't that much football done as we were concentrating on building up our fitness for the past four weeks," said O'Connor.

"We kicked a ridiculous amount of wides in the first half so we still have plenty to work on."

Still, not quite as much as Dublin, who face another tough challenge against Mayo in Castlebar next Saturday night.

Man of the Match: Tomas O Se (Kerry)

Scorers -- Kerry: B Sheehan 0-8 (5f), J O'Donoghue, BJ Keane (2f) 0-3 each, Darran O'Sullivan 1-0. Dublin: T Quinn 0-4 (3f), K McManamon 0-3, S Cluxton 0-2 (1f, 1'45'), B Cullen, D Connolly 0-1 each.

Kerry -- B Kealy 7; P Crowley 7, M O Se 8, S Enright 7; T O Se 9, K Young 7, B Maguire 8; S Scanlon 6, B Sheehan 8; P Galvin 8, Darran O'Sullivan 8, S O'Sullivan 5; J O'Donoghue 7, K Donaghy 6, BJ Keane 8. Subs: A Maher 7 for Scanlon (h-t), P Curtin 8 for S O'Sullivan (49), D O'Callaghan 6 for D O'Sullivan (61), A O'Mahony for Crowley (66), D Bohan for Keane (71).

Dublin -- S Cluxton 7; M Fitzsimons 7, R O'Carroll 7, P McMahon 6; J McCarthy 6, G Brennan 6, C Dias 6; R McConnell 5, MD Macauley 5; P Brogan 5, K McManamon 8, B Cullen 6; D Connolly 6, E O'Gara 5, T Quinn 7. Subs: P Flynn 6 for Brogan (44), K Nolan 6 for Fitzsimons (51), E Fennell 4 for McConnell (51), D Kelly for O'Gara (63), S Murray for Macauley (64).

Ref -- M Deegan (Laois)

Irish Independent

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