Friday 2 December 2016

Tomás Ó Sé: We will never beat Dublin if this failing system isn't overhauled quickly

Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30

'We were fighting an uphill battle on so many levels' Photo: Sportsfile
'We were fighting an uphill battle on so many levels' Photo: Sportsfile

I drove home from Croke Park with a storm raging inside my head last night because these Dubs have me half depressed. Making hard judgements on old team-mates isn't something that comes easy to me but, for Kerry to not perform again against this team just struck me as inexcusable. And it leaves me asking uncomfortable questions.

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I thought that Kerry had learned tactically from last year's All-Ireland final, but Dublin are just so forceful and relentless in what they're doing, Kerry actually don't have the legs to stay with them.

How we were just a point behind when Aidan O'Mahony was sent off is a tribute to how hard the team worked. But, let's cut to the chase here. Dublin are on a different level.

The dismissal was foolish on Aidan's part, but he's been sailing close to the wind too often in my view. I know he's a bit of a marked man, but what he did was ridiculous, basically ending the game.

Kieran Donaghy blocks a shot from Dean Rock during Dublin’s Allianz NFL Division One final victory against Kerry Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Donaghy blocks a shot from Dean Rock during Dublin’s Allianz NFL Division One final victory against Kerry Photo: Sportsfile

I thought Brendan Kealey was having a howler on his kick-outs long before he spooned one to Paul Flynn for Dublin's opening goal

Defensively, we tried to do our best, but my brother Marc wasn't at the races, Mahony wasn't at the races, Fionn Fitzgerald wasn't at the races.

We're playing Mahony as a sweeper and I don't think he's the man for that role. The system might work against 30 other counties, but it's against the Dubs you'll ultimately get measured.

And, against them, it's not fit for purpose.

Bernard Brogan fails to prevent the ball from going out over the sideline Photo: Sportsfile
Bernard Brogan fails to prevent the ball from going out over the sideline Photo: Sportsfile

At the start yesterday, Marc and Peter Crowley were driving forward and I though we were going to have a real cut. But we stopped. 'Gooch' had been causing problems inside but we stopped putting ball in to him. Or, maybe more accurately, we weren't able.

The Dubs' back-line was outstanding, Jonny Cooper and Philly McMahon brilliant coming forward. James McCarthy is the best defender in the country today. He's gliding into position, but he has this bull strength that just stops an opponent in his tracks.

'They are now being spoken as 'invincible' and with some justification.' Photo: Sportsfile
'They are now being spoken as 'invincible' and with some justification.' Photo: Sportsfile

I think Dublin learned a big lesson in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Donegal. They were playing this lovely, pure attacking football at the time and got caught with sucker punches.

That was the day, I suspect, they came up with the role that Cian O'Sullivan now plays to virtual perfection. It means they still carry that same attacking threat, but they also have a defensive blanket that is so difficult to penetrate.

And Jim Gavin has this team exactly where he wants them now.

I saw Philly McMahon having an argument with one of the selectors and he was taken off in a flash. Diarmuid Connolly not going well? Off too. The Dubs have so many options, they can send out these messages to their players.

They got an impact from nearly everybody who went in off the bench. Between them, Kevin McManamon, Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes kicked 1-3. Kerry just didn't have that kind of impact in reserve.

So we were fighting an uphill battle on so many levels. Our bale-out card, the height of David Moran, Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy under high ball, just never came into play. Overall, our kick-out strategy was a disaster.

But we were physically bossed too. Once yesterday, I saw Paul Mannion up-ending Sheehan to turn over ball. The Dubs have a nasty streak in them that I can only respect. Every time Ciaran Kilkenny did something well, he'd smash into Fitzgerald on the way back out the field, driving him back a few yards, every time.

He's not a dirty player, but he was leaving the kind of calling card I said last week that Kerry needed to start leaving

It's not all doom and gloom for Kerry, we did have a positive National League. But I felt disgusted going home because we just didn't answer any of the important questions.

The trouble is, we'd get away with this again in Munster. Now I'm not saying that the likes of Marc and Mahony are finished, but we simply cannot handle Dublin one-on-one.

It was never a close match in my view. Dublin's pace seemed to have us in trouble all over the field. I wouldn't say the race for Sam Maguire is over, it's just Dublin have every card marked.

Brian Fenton was terrific in midfield, Denis Bastick worked his socks off. Then Michael Darragh Macauley comes in. Where else would you get that? We certainly can't match it.

I would say one thing, the summer is long. But my worry is that Dublin will improve and that's the scary thing

If there is a positive for Kerry, it's that at least it happened now. I don't doubt that men like Marc and Mahony will be on a mission now to get back to Croke Park and prove a point.

But this is the best Dubs team of all time.

That's not just Kerry's problem. It's everybody's.

Irish Independent

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