Tuesday 20 August 2019

Billy Keane: 'Hosts on fire as Mayo wilt but refuse to melt in Killarney heat'


David Moran, holding off the challenge of Mayo's James McCormack, played the half of his life. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
David Moran, holding off the challenge of Mayo's James McCormack, played the half of his life. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

It seems that in the extremes of the Antarctic pee freezes into an ice pop before it hits the snow below. There was no cold in Killarney yesterday but someone said there was a man seen with an umbrella and a coat under his oxter.

A Mayo man, with an honest face, complained that the ice cream in Killarney turned to sour milk before it even hit the cone. Kerry had more energy than Mayo at this first Super 8s game, and there is no doubt but that we are an improving team.

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There is hope. Peter Keane is cute and he knows there is no point in singing 'Happy Birthday' three months before the big occasion.

Mayo have been out four weeks in a row. George Best came home more often than the Mayo fans. They had massive support again in Killarney. I'm guessing the Marie Celeste had a bigger crew than those left at home to keep an eye out.

Mayo were sluggish. We have seen this phenomenon in the past. Last year, in the hurling, Limerick were hammered after three or four tough weeks in a row. Limerick came back to make history. And this year Limerick did the same to a tired-looking Tipp in the Munster final. Tipp beat proud Laois yesterday to reach the semi-final. Go easy on Mayo. You can't plug players in. They are still in the championship, with Meath next up in Croke Park.

Tough Our guess is Mayo will have their focus back in time. Meath are learning on the job and will give Mayo a tough game. But if Mayo win then their fate will be decided in true Mayo style with a possible season finale against Donegal in Castlebar. The last episode of 'Game of Thrones' will be on the undercard. PT Barnum must be arranging the Mayo programme.

The talk is some of their injured players are close to returning and Cillian O'Connor broke the Gooch's record as the highest scorer in the championship. This is some achievement for a man only barely run in.

Cillian hit the crossbar with about 20 to go and if that one had gone in, Mayo would have been only six behind.

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There is no doubt but that Kerry are a top-of-the-ground football team. Kerry stood up to Mayo. Kerry were hurting. We met with Adrian Spillane outside the family pub in Templenoe last Saturday week.

Even then he was up for the game. Mad for it. Kerry dominated midfield in the first half. David Moran, stung by accusations he was bullied in the past, played the half of his life. He went up so high Birdwatch Ireland are thinking of complaining him.

If Kerry's Stephen O'Brien was working for the highway authorities, there would be no bends on the roads. He is the only player I have ever seen who can accelerate off a solo.

David Clifford is getting fitter. Even at about 80 per cent he can make the ball talk. Our defence was much improved. Shane Enright is an out -and-out defender. Like Jason Foley, he plays gluten-free North Kerry football. There are no flowery bits. The Kerry backs attacked off the shoulder. There isn't time to go through the team. Suffice it to say, every Kerry player did well.

To Kerry, I would say we need the same intensity next week for Donegal at 4pm in Croke Park. It's a Sunday game which means the kids from two far-away-from-Dublin counties can be taken to the game.

The attendance yesterday in Killarney was over 33,000, nearly twice the total present at the Munster football final which was held on a Saturday night in Cork.

Is there anyone at the ruling corps of the GAA who has a sense of fair play or cop on? How about this? Roscommon, with the same population as Tallaght, play Dublin in a neutral venue, namely Croke Park, which coincidentally happens to be in Dublin. Dublin are either the best or second best team of all time. This neutral venue of Dublin was a home venue last week.

The GAA justifies the ridiculousness and unfairness by saying Congress voted for it. Wrong is wrong, no matter who voted for what. The GAA president actively promoted the vote for Dublin to play two games at home. The biscuit-dunkers in Congress should be ashamed. This is a massive injustice.

But it may be that the GAA have found a way of fixing the backstop. The North could be in GB on Saturday and in the EU the following week.

On Saturday night, Joe Brolly came on board when he said it was unfair on Cork to play an evening game. He suggested there could have been a double-header with their hurlers. There were more Cork people queueing up for chips at Lennox's than were in Croker on Saturday.

Brolly said the cheapest room in Dublin was €300. Cork were badly blackguarded. The GAA is now anti-rural Ireland. The journey from Bantry, in the football stronghold of West Cork to Croke Park, is a round trip of more than 700km. If this late show keeps on going, Croke Park will be like Hamelin after the Piper called. There will be no kids. Well, none from the country anyway.

Numbers Kerry will travel in some numbers next Sunday. We must back up this week with a big display next week. There can be no let-up now. We have a young team who are capable of great deeds. No selfies this week or no falling in love with ourselves. But Kerry can be confident if they play to their best then anything is possible.

Mayo and Kerry could do with some advice from Buddha who advised against undue elation or undue disappointment.

Right now, Kerry and Donegal are vying with Tyrone for the best of the rest. Cork were skilful and gutsy against Dublin. It will take Cork at least another year to get to the fitness levels needed to see games out against the top teams.

The Rebels tired and Dublin produced some of the most clinical, yet artistic and free-flowing football we have ever seen. They are a superb team but there is some hope of an upset if Kerry, Tyrone and Donegal keep improving.

And whisper it? Could it be a Mayo-Dublin semi-final to be played in the neutral home field of Croke Park. Only in Mayo.

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