Sunday 25 March 2018

Paidi O Se: Kerry enjoy perfect day at the office

Paidi O Se

I tipped Cork to win last Sunday's Munster final because I felt that this year they were way more equipped to handle the Kerry forward line. As things turned out in Killarney, that certainly was not the case.

First of all, Kieran Donaghy and Declan O'Sullivan ran riot. It was clear Cork totally underestimated the value of those two players when they are going well. Coupled with that, Cork weren't able to control the Kerry half-forward line, either Donnacha Walsh or Darran O'Sullivan on the wings.

Despite having the likes of Aidan Walsh, Pearse O'Neill and Alan O'Connor out around the middle half of the field, Cork took short kick-outs which did not make sense to me. It worked earlier on when there was an amount of space created in front of Marc ó Sé, but slowly but surely that space was filled up and from that point Kerry beat them in all departments of the field.

By his own standards, Colm Cooper would have felt that he had a quiet game, and he probably did, but you have to consider that the other two fellas on the inside played an awful lot of the ball. Kieran O'Leary showed for an amount of ball all through, and was probably unlucky not to get his name on a few more scores. On top of that, the interchanging of Declan O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy provided a lot of movement that pulled Cork all over the place.

The other situation that Kerry will be very happy about last Sunday is how Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher played at midfield. So much was being said about the Kerry midfield but I can assure you that the way they played last Sunday would hold up against any other midfield partnership that's out there at the moment and beat them.

I also felt that the Kerry management had a good day at the office. The team were very well turned out, very fresh, and the trainers and management have to be complimented on a job well done.

Kerry could have been going in at half-time 15 or 16 points ahead, and people will ask what happened to them in the second half. I often wonder myself how it is that teams can't defend those kind of 10- or 11-point leads. I think it's a mental struggle and it's something Kerry will have to keep an eye on.

Even when I was in charge of Kerry myself I remember playing Dublin in a quarter-final and we had a crazy lead of about 12 or 13 points at one stage. But in the end we were very lucky to hang in there for a replay thanks to a memorable kick by Maurice Fitzgerald.

An awful lot of it is that Cork pick off a score, and they pick off a second score and then for some reason or other they get an inner strength. And then I feel the referee often influences it as well, where any old kind of break will tend to go their way.

The win was great for Kerry because of the fact that they have a long wait now to the next game. There are also a share of players jockeying for positions coming back -- Paul Galvin, Tomás ó Sé and Tommy Griffin in particular. So there's going to be a bite in training. A lot of people feel at the moment, and a lot of players in the county feel it too, that this Kerry team are only starting, that there's much more good football left in them and they want to be part of it.

Everybody says Cork are still going to be around next September, but I'm wondering about that now. Kerry exposed an amount of deficiencies in their armoury last Sunday, notably their half-back line. It's also very clear that Graham Canty is nowhere near match fitness at the moment, and I thought after about a quarter of an hour that he should have been taken off. Last Sunday was a day he'll certainly want to forget in a hurry and he has a lot of work to do if he's to have an impact in championship football for the remainder of the year.

As regards today's Leinster final, this Wexford team is going to be no pushover, and I think this game is going to be much closer than people think. I know they've been training well and are quietly confident of putting it up to Dublin.

But at the same time I'd be thinking that Dublin would have enough to carry the day, with the Brogan brothers proving to be too much of a handful for Wexford.

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