Walsh should not be written out of Kingdom's plans
Published 31/07/2011 | 05:00
It's four weeks since Kerry played their last competitive match -- the Munster final win over Cork -- and while you can play all the challenge matches and training games you want, the teams that are playing competitively are going to have an advantage.
They will be a little bit more focused and more in tune with the pace of championship football than those who have been out of action for a while. It's those extra few inches that often get teams over the line.
The last thing Kerry wanted was to meet a team who is on a roll, a side who is regularly winning games and has fine-tuned its starting 15.
In getting Limerick in the quarter-final draw, Kerry got what they might consider the easiest team out of the ones that they could have been pitted against. From that point of view this game could provide Kerry with what they need: some competitive action that's not too dangerous but should be at a decent enough level to allow them to get back into the swing of championship football.
Starting Paul Galvin and Tomás ó Sé was a good move by Jack O'Connor. It will force the other panelists to up the ante in training. Both of them are proven Croke Park men. Kerry now have a very nice cut to their line-up today and I think if they were going into battle in any big game that would be the team that they will be putting out.
If Kerry do get over today, and I expect they will, if I was Jack O'Connor, the next phone call I'd make would be to Tommy Walsh in Australia. I certainly believe he will be vital to Kerry if they want to win this year's All-Ireland title.
And I wouldn't be too worried about those who think that he turned his back on the Kerry jersey or that we have to be loyal to the players who have been training. Tommy Walsh and all those belonging to him, have given as much to Kerry as anyone has -- they owe nothing to the county. He should be welcomed back with open arms and put into the action immediately.
From a Limerick perspective, it's a big occasion for them to be playing in Croke Park in the quarter-final of an All-Ireland. It's the first time that they have ever reached that type of competitive level in modern-day football.
While a lot of people will argue that there is going to be a small attendance of Kerry and Limerick supporters because it's on in Dublin and on the television, from a player's perspective every Gaelic football player wants to play in Croke Park, it's their dream. What a pity then that their great servant, midfielder John Galvin, is robbed of his chance to play on the stage where he belongs by that cruel cruciate injury he suffered before the championship began.
Even though Limerick showed great battling attributes when they played Kerry last year and came so close to winning, I don't think they will be able to do that again this time.
On that occasion they had the advantage of having two Kerry men involved in Mickey Ned O'Sullivan and Donie Buckley, who knew all about the players from their native county -- including their weaknesses. Stephen Lucey had a magnificent hour on Kieran Donaghy last year and he is back for today and could be given the same job again.
There is still a question mark hanging over midfield and whether or not the Kerry midfield of Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher can pull off decent games back to back. But I think they will because Kerry want to win this game, they want to have another crack at Cork.
And despite last year's game, the more recent clash between them in the Munster semi-final is the most up-to-date form guide we have, and that doesn't augur well for Limerick.
There has been a freshness to the Kerry attack this year which the best of defences will find hard to live with and I fully expect them to cut loose again today. That said, Kerry conceded three goals to Limerick the last day and they cannot afford a repeat today.
Sunday Indo Sport