Monday 20 January 2020

Ciarán Whelan: Any team that gains parity with the Kerry midfield is almost guaranteed to win

Kieran Hughes of Monaghan in action against Jack Barry of Kerry - Both counties are vying for a place in the All Ireland semi-final
Kieran Hughes of Monaghan in action against Jack Barry of Kerry - Both counties are vying for a place in the All Ireland semi-final

Ciarán Whelan

A day after the Tyrone v Dublin game, I was fortunate enough to be in Clones. Monaghan will be kicking themselves in allowing Kerry to snatch a draw at the death.

I thought that the hosts were excellent all day but regrettably, from their perspective, they failed to get the job done and put Kerry out of their misery.

The Kingdom looked like a team on the edge of a cliff, just waiting for the inevitable nudge to fall into championship obscurity for this campaign but it never arrived as Monaghan were not clinical enough despite dominating their opponents.

You would imagine that with ten minutes remaining, Éamonn Fitzmaurice was composing his resignation speech but ultimately, Monaghan were left to rue their profligacy following David Clifford’s superb goal in injury time.

He may not have been prominent all the way through but Kieran Donaghy showed his importance once again in deftly creating that goal opportunity and he remains an important cog in this Kerry panel.

However, his contributions cannot mask the weaknesses that Kerry have at present, especially in defence and midfield, and if any team can gain parity around the middle third, they are almost guaranteed a win, given the porosity of the Kerry back six.

That Monaghan didn’t manage that could well prove fatal to their ambitions and while both Conor McManus and Rory Beggan were almost flawless on the day, they are perhaps too reliant on those two along with Karl O’Connell.  

They will be slightly deflated after how things ended against Kerry and they’ll really need a repeat of last Sunday’s performance to get over the line against group leaders Galway.

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