Thursday 23 November 2017

Kingdom to survive onslaught

Paidi O Se

For Mayo to beat Kerry today, a lot will depend on how they tackle the challenge mentally, and once again as analysts we are finding it so difficult to figure them out.

I've got Mayo wrong so many times it isn't even funny anymore. It's got to the stage that I think readers probably feel I am having a joke about them, that I'm not really serious at all.

But on so many occasions Mayo have let themselves down and let their county down by not doing themselves justice on the field.

They must bring something very special to the table if they are to beat Kerry. Every player on the field needs to give a bit extra, they need to have an edge that we haven't seen in any Mayo team before.

Overall there isn't that much expected of Mayo and they should be looking at this as an advantage. Nobody is really giving them a chance but everyone wants them to win. Mick O'Dwyer used to always say, there are 31 and a half counties against us -- that's the rest of the country and half of Kerry.

I think midfield will be an interesting battle in the context of this match as there is nothing really expected from the two O'Sheas.

There is a lot of public house talk about when the last time four Kerrymen played midfield in an All-Ireland semi-final and the question has yet to be answered.

Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher have given us two very good performances but they are by no means world-beaters. They are a part of a team of classic footballers and they are not into heavy mettle.

Neither of them are very physical like Darragh ó Se was so the O'Shea brothers will get every opportunity to play well.

Today Kerry are in a very similar situation to the one Tipperary were in going into last weekend's All-Ireland hurling semi-final -- they are hot favourites.

The game is a big banana skin for them and they will need a huge level of mental awareness and cuteness if they want to come out the other side. How they mentally prepare for the encounter is going to be critical. Kerry need to learn from Tipperary's mistakes and approach the game ready for a Mayo onslaught.

Over the last few months Kerry have allowed themselves an adequate amount of time to look at their defence and fix it. Although it was still very open and loose against Limerick in the quarter-final, they have the capabilities to tighten it up for today. Eoin Brosnan and Aidan O'Mahony should be up to the task and it's common knowledge that Tom O'Sullivan is big Croke Park man. He has proven that in the past.

I've always maintained the philosophy that the closer you get to the big prize, the closer you need to be to your man and that's something the backs should adopt today. It's easy to execute, it's all about picking up a man and pinning him down.

By his own standards, Colm Cooper is having a very quiet year but other players are coming to the fore. Donnacha Walsh has now established himself as a big-day performer and I'm delighted to see young Kieran O'Leary starting.

Mayo may have new management, additional players and a solid defence but Kerry know how to get the job done. It's second nature to them and that ability will count for more today.

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