Thursday 22 August 2019

Billy Keane: 'Kerry no threat to Dubs' strive for five after this second-half showing'

Kerry's Tommy Walsh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kerry's Tommy Walsh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Kerry beat Clare on a wet night in Ennis.

I hear you. I do. Your question is will Kerry stop the strive for five?

There is no need to go to the bottom of the page, or to turn the paper upside down to find the answer. We will give it to you straight.

On the evidence of what we saw in Cusack Park on Saturday night, the answer is just a plain no.

So in the space of a week the supposed dangers to Dublin have drifted in the betting. Mayo and Kerry need to improve. The fifth might well be the easiest of the five. Dublin will be delighted.

Clare missed about ten easy scores. They dropped the ball in to the Kerry goalies hands far too often. The Banner were so far behind, it seemed as if the game would be awarded to Kerry so as to mind the perfect surface for the hurlers who played Tipp yesterday.

But Colm Collins men got stuck in and they never gave in. Clare threw themselves in front of the Kerry attack with a series of brave but ultimately Quixotic last ditch challenges.

Clare were as fit as Kerry or maybe fitter. They won the second half hands down. The Banner gathered up nearly every spilled ball on a night when the clothes were taken in off the line a half an hour before the throw in.

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And if they did miss a lot, David Tubridy from Doonbeg kicked the two best scores of the game.

Dinky

There was a superb bendy point from a dinky pass just before the break and another from a difficult angle lifted his team in the second half.

The scores from a man who served Clare so well for so many years was surely a signal for Trump's men to pencil in a visit to the family pub when the President comes- a- visiting to Doonbeg. And surely Mr Trump will call to the Igoe Inn even though I'm told he is very much a Mi- Wadi man.

Kerry did play well for about 40 minutes. There were passages of mesmerising forward play. James O'Donoghue was back to his brilliant best until he was injured.

Kerry's work rate was good but too often our inside backs were isolated but Clare didn't deliver quality ball. Tadhg Morley looked the part at full back. He is tough, tight and very Seamus Moynihany.

Shane Enright at half back played north Kerry tight marking football. Tom O'Sullivan at corner back is up there with the best.

Kerry really come alive when the ball is moved forward at pace. David Moran controlled the game with long kick passes until he was black carded. I didn't see the alleged blocking as visibility was poor. You would nearly need a lighthouse to figure out the topography of the far side of the pitch.

There are times when you could see Kerry troubling the best, but the intensity dropped dramatically when this young team probably felt they had done enough to win far out from the end of the game.

For some reason Kerry went defensive early in the second half and pulled back several players. They lost their shape and their rhythm. Maybe Kerry were sent out on manoeuvres so as to prepare for the bigger teams. The plan backfired. They handed the initiative over to Clare.

Clare's Gary Brennan is close on the best midfielder in the country and has been for some time. I have never seen him fitter.

Clare changed the plan after half time and ran at Kerry. They won the second half hands down. There was a time when Clare teams faded as the game went on. But this team finished the stronger.

Protection

As usual there was no protection for Sean O'Shea.

The referee James Molloy took a severe blow to a place that wasn't nice. There was a collective gasp from the Kerry supporters. The substitute referee was none other than Joe McQuillan, who will never be selected as Kerry Person of the Year.

Mr McQuillan missed several pulling and dragging fouls on O'Shea. I wouldn't blame the referee. Most of the fouling was done when his back was turned. Let me emphasise Clare were not dirty, but everyone fouls O'Shea.

The salmon season runs from March to August. The pheasant is shot between November and the end of January, but the Sean O'Shea season lasts all year long.

There were two off-the-ball tackles on Jason Foley on Joe's side. Tommy Walsh had been harshly black carded and Mark Griffin was sent off for a second yellow.

By the way Walsh was good when he came on and Foley was excellent. He scored a vital point near the end.

There was a horrible collision between O'Shea and Clare's Kevin Harnett about three minutes from time. The vigilant James Molloy stopped play and immediately called on the medics.

It was a case of two brave players going head-on for the ball. There was no malice of any kind. Harnett was stretchered off and O'Shea was badly shaken.

Clare will take hope from that fine second half but their shooting must improve. Kerry will look to the first half when, for a while, they did look as if they were up there with the best. The defence has improved and when the forwards get quick ball they are capable of scoring goals every single time.

The Munster final will tell a lot. Cork are back and Cork are seething.

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