Friday 24 October 2014

Kerry forwards have the edge over Mayo, says O'Connor

Published 19/08/2014 | 02:30

Former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor believes that if the Kingdom can gain the upper hand in midfield, they will have the attacking firepower to overcome Mayo. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor believes that if the Kingdom can gain the upper hand in midfield, they will have the attacking firepower to overcome Mayo. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Jack O'Connor believes Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his Kerry team have the winning formula to overcome Mayo in Sunday's All-Ireland senior football semi-final.

O'Connor, manager of Kerry for three All-Ireland victories, and current Kingdom minor boss, accepts there is no fear factor for either team in this match, so it's all down to the small margins that will decide the outcome.

"There is very little between the teams but I think that Kerry have a great chance because the Kerry forwards are really functioning at the moment.

"A lot of it will depend on the middle eight, because Mayo have a lot of big strong fellas there, and if they get possession there, they have half-backs who can drive on, so that is where the game will be decided.

"If Kerry can gain the upper hand at midfield, then they have the forwards to win the game," insisted O'Connor.

Given the quality of his all-round game, O'Connor is not surprised that Declan O'Sullivan has adapted to a defensive role after many years in the forward line.

"In many ways, that is his natural game, because he has played that way for his club Dromid Pearses for years, so it's something that comes naturally to him.

"I think sometimes, he thought that centre-back might be a natural position for himself.

"He looks after himself well and obviously, he is not as mobile as he used to be. But he certainly has a good record against Mayo over the years, and there is many a Mayo defender would testify to that," said O'Connor.

Are Mayo coming to a peak at the right time? O'Connor believes they hit their best form in last year's quarter-final win over Donegal, and wonders if lessons have been learned from 2013 when they lost to Dublin in the final, falling heartbreakingly at the final hurdle for the second successive season.

"Maybe they are coming along a bit slower this year, and maybe that's the way they want it.

"To me Mayo appeared to peak too early last year, and everyone knows that All-Irelands are not won in the first week of August," added O'Connor.

Irish Independent

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