More inspiration needed in the half-forward line

Brian McGuire, Kerry.
Brian McGuire, Kerry.

THE opening night of the National League proved interesting in the capital and not just for all the things taking place on the pitch.

Paul Galvin chose to announce his retirement after the game at Croke Park. The North Kerry man decided to call it a day in what I would see as another honest call by a player who bared all in the Kerry shirt.

There were times when he frustrated us by picking up cards and getting sent off, but make no mistake about it and never doubt his value to the county. He walks away with four All Ireland medals, three National leagues, six Munster titles, Footballer of the Year in 2009, an All-Ireland club title when he donned the colours of his club Finuge in 2005 to give his club the honour of an All Ireland title.

He too was quite handy with the hurl and won three County Championships with Lixnaw. A friend of mine one day said 'bad cess to old age' and that's the thing all players face.

In relative terms Paul Galvin is a young man with a whole new life ahead of him. In football terms, though, and when you play the game the way he did father time catches up with you. The pace is no longer in the legs and the commitment required for a cameo role is hard to maintain after eleven years of service to his county.

So he stepped aside on a night that the new look Kerry team took to the field in Croke Park for the next chapter in Kerry football. Let me say I was happy enough with the performance of the Kerry players.

They took the game to the Dublin lads and were a little unlucky not to come away with at least a draw from this encounter the way it panned out. We were our own worst enemies for some scores conceded, however.

It's early days yet, but the pace of the game and the opposition were much better then what we met in any McGrath Cup game. Like I say, the overall performance was not bad, but the problem is we lost.

There is some tweaking to be done, but in the absence of a few lads from the Crokes, it is not easy at this time. I was a little disappointed with some very poor turnover of ball by a few players even though we were helped by the fact that Dublin kicked some bad wides.

We could have got something from this game and particularly when the All-Ireland and defending League holders were down to fourteen after full-back Sean George was sent off. I thought our use of the extra man, as often is when the opposition lose a man, was poor.

I would also question how quickly we emptied our bench. We had players with lesser experience on the field when Dublin were bringing on the big guns, which we should have anticipated a little better. This is not a criticism of management as you can only go with the players available to you.

Last week I said I felt we needed to find a defence that will still be a priority as we go through the league, but let's be fair to the lads on Saturday night. They didn't do at all badly. Of course our old friend McManamon popped up for his customary goal against us and O'Gara proved a real handful. At the same time Murphy, Griffin and Enright can go into the next game with a bit of confidence.

I thought young Murphy did very well because I rate Cormac Costello very highly and I tend to judge players on who they are marking. Of course, a Kerry back picked up the man of the match when Peter Crowley was chosen for the award, but for me the half back area was a little disappointing.

David Moran did okay in the middle of the park, but tends to do silly things and gave a number of balls away easily and some of the deliveries to the inside line were a little too airborne for fellows who are not big and would not be great over their head. Anthony Maher put in a decent seventy minutes, but he too turned over ball at vital times in the game.

The Kerry half-forward line worked hard as a defensive unit but I would like to see more of an attacking option from this line. All three - Lyne, Geaney and Walsh - worked back to help out in defence. Interestingly, all three were taken off – that's why I make the point that some of this line is played out of position.

The full-forward line and in particular James O'Donoghue was very good. Barry John Keane had a good night even though he is inclined, like young O'Brien, to be caught behind his man on a few occasions.

When the Dublin big boys like McAuley, McCaffery and Paul Mannion entered the fray the ball to the Kerry inside line dried up.

One thing that worried me was that we saw a Premier League type dive by a Kerry player, looking for a free when there was a pass on. Not clever. The referee rightly gave a free out, booked the player and the game was lost by a point.

The Kerry goalkeeper will have to be careful with kick-outs. He knows those turnovers are costly, but when you are trying to find a man with those kick-outs you have to be spot on as must the player you're trying to find. He must expect the ball and if this is team policy alertness is needed because it's a dangerous ploy.

All in all Dublin had to bring the big guns in to get over us. This Sunday we do it all again at home to Derry and that will tell us more.


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