Sunday 17 December 2017

Croke Park travesty put the boot into my afternoon

Conor McGourty, St Gall' s, in action against Martin McMahon and Declan Callinan, left, Kilmurry Ibrickane. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor McGourty, St Gall' s, in action against Martin McMahon and Declan Callinan, left, Kilmurry Ibrickane. Photo: Sportsfile

MY tolerance threshold for bullshit football is lower than ever after the St Patrick's Day travesty of the All-Ireland club final between St Gall's and Kilmurry Ibrickane.

To say that the farcical football on show spoiled my afternoon's television viewing would be an understatement. Neither team had much in the way of real football talent, which is perhaps the reason they insisted on playing the short game, at which they were both a long way from being masters.

I saw only two players who could kick a ball, the St Gall's midfielder Aodhan Gallagher and their wing-forward, Simon Downes. They were the only ones who gave any indication of being able to kick the ball over the bar from 30 yards or more.

Tyrone are the masters of the short game, but it must never be forgotten that they spend many, many hours on the practice pitch drilling themselves in the moves. Mickey Harte is a genius in this aspect of the game and he's a perfectionist on the training ground.

Watching the St Patrick's Day fiasco, I found myself yearning for the days when forwards of the calibre of Pat Spillane and Colm O'Rourke could be guaranteed to get a handful of points from play with kicks from 40 yards or more.

It is absurd for other teams, lacking the talent and the appetite for hard work that Tyrone possess, to try to imitate the style. It ends up in an inglorious muddle. The more I see of this rubbish, the more I am inclined to go back to basics and to remember once more that Kerry's great strength is their ability as kickers.

As long as they have forwards like Kieran Donaghy, Colm Cooper and Declan O'Sullivan, who can point it from 40 yards or more, with players such as Seamus Scanlon and Micheal Quirke coming through from midfield, and backs of the calibre of Tom O'Sullivan, Marc ó Sé and Aidan O'Mahony who would die rather than let anyone past them, Kerry must not be ruled out this year.

Right now, Declan O'Sullivan is probably the best footballer in the country -- he is pure class and he has got there because he has kept good habits on the training ground. I trust the Kerry management will keep him on the 40 and not let him go too deep. With a good supply from midfield, the aerial advantage of Donaghy and Cooper will be hard to beat.

The Kerry management has no need to do a course in motivational skills at the moment -- there are three or four places up for grabs and there are plenty of good players hungry for those places, so everyone is on their toes.

Kerry's joust against Mayo in Tralee today will be a hard one to call. The only teams I can see shaping up to the Munster duo of Kerry and Cork this year are Mayo and Dublin. In fact, I'll go further -- I don't think Dublin truly have it in them and if there is to be a new holder of the Sam Maguire this year, my guess is it will be either Mayo or Cork. So even though Kerry have been on a good run -- and last week's win was a notable one -- I think Mayo could well turn them over today.

Having said that, the National League is proving to be a valuable contest with plenty of competitive and entertaining matches.

There are some interesting newcomers coming through in Kerry, two of whom shone in last weekend's surprise U21 victory over Cork in Tralee.

I've already tipped Johnny Buckley of the Crokes as a player with a future, and Paul Geaney is one of those rare occurrences in west Kerry (Dara ó Cinnéide excepted) who can kick a good score from play.

Sunday Independent

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