Wednesday 26 October 2016

Eoin Liston: Kerry fans will be worried with what they saw from Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side

Published 04/07/2016 | 02:30

Kerry captain Bryan Sheehan with the Cup
Kerry captain Bryan Sheehan with the Cup

Four Munster titles in a row should be celebrated in Kerry, but instead many supporters left Killarney yesterday with more questions than answers and a degree of apprehension about the immediate future.

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There was an unusual atmosphere around Fitzgerald Stadium from start to finish, and even after Tipperary's early goal it was as if everyone knew the result before the it started - with some Kerry players going through the motions.

After an entertaining six-goal minor thriller, with many promising Kerry youngsters on show, and Tipp's lightning start, I thought the game would explode to life - but once Paul Murphy hit the net it turned into an anti-climax.

Supporters will be worried about how Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side played however, as the intensity just wasn't there - and, at times, Tipp went through the middle of our defence like a hot knife through butter.

Huge improvement was expected from the Clare game but it didn't really materialise, and we've now conceded 17 and 16 points in the last two games, which won't be near good enough down the road.

Very little has been learned from this Munster final as opposed to other years. We already knew that we needed to tighten up and close down the channels at the back - and we didn't - while there wasn't evidence of improved kick-outs.

Killian Young and Shane Enright were strong at the back, but others found it tough to get going. Photo: Sportsfile
Killian Young and Shane Enright were strong at the back, but others found it tough to get going. Photo: Sportsfile

Read More: Paul Geaney shines as Kerry claim their fourth Munster title in a row against brave Tipp

We're after getting another lesson and got away with it, as Tipp could easily have had another goal or two. We didn't see the massive enthusiasm, the energy, the passion that you have to play with to bury teams.

There wasn't enough fellas firing themselves into challenges, while our defensive system wasn't clear to see. I'm not sure what the game plan was and we need to tidy up on things. But time is on our side.

Fitzmaurice definitely didn't show his hand, and if he did there was a glove on it, because there was no sign of the tactics they've been developing behind closed doors since the league final loss to the Dubs.

That type of performance won't suffice down the line, but it's better to know that now than in the white heat of a quarter or semi-final. Having not impressed against Clare or Tipp before the last eight on the August Bank Holiday is a bit worrying, though.

We're not coming away bouncing with excitement and the general mood is disappointment. People weren't sent home bubbling with optimism, but I expect huge improvement because we get better as the year goes on.

There were lots of positives, however, and Paul Geaney was really on his A game. He was fantastic, and along with Paul Murphy did most of the heavy lifting up front while the forwards tackled hard throughout - which is a trend they'll need to maintain.

Killian Young and Shane Enright were strong at the back, but others found it tough to get going. You'd think with the competition for places that fellas would be buzzing around, and Peter Crowley's absence with a broken nose affected our structure.

It was great to see the likes of Anthony Maher, David Moran and James O'Donoghue getting game time though, and they're big additions, while Barry John Keane and Jonathan Lyne had an extra buzz in them when introduced.

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It's encouraging, especially if Gooch is going to be sidelined for a while. I hope his injury isn't too serious - his class and guile are badly needed at crunch time, even if we hit 3-17 yesterday.

From my stats we had 41 possessions inside their 45 and it led to 27 shots, 20 of which we scored from, with Murphy penetrating the attack. He is delivering big time up front and that's another huge plus.

Tipperary weren't able to repeat their heroics over Cork and, while they battled hard, they were let down by the basics as the game wore on - taking the ball into the tackle and making some poor decisions in possession.

They went short with their kick-outs and that takes a lot of work to keep bringing it the length of the field. On that, I think the powers that be will have to change that rule and make the goalies kick it outside the 45, because it's taking a great spectacle out of the equation and the high catch should be protected.

Despite being up against it Michael Quinlivan once again delivered for Tipp. I believe he was on a drip on Saturday but he still showed that he's a serious footballer. As a team, Tipp left everything out there and made things hard for us, but Kerry just had too many extra gears yesterday- but we'll need more next month.

Irish Independent

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