Monday 19 August 2019

Colm O'Rourke: 'The good news for the Rebels is they have a team again'


Kerry's Stephen O'Brien is tackled by Cork's Sean White. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry's Stephen O'Brien is tackled by Cork's Sean White. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Ruairi Deane. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm O'Rourke

Colm O'Rourke

Some hope at last for Cork football. After last year's humiliation - when they were beaten by 17 points - they found that this team does have heart and spirit. In the end, they were a little unfortunate not to get a replay out of the game.

Kerry won, but have a lot of unanswered questions.

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They are a long way from the finished article - the defence is still very ropey. Kerry need a commanding figure like Seamus Moynihan, which they don't seem to have. I have no doubt Peter Keane has scoured the county looking for this man, an alchemist, who can take this team to the next level.

Cork scored three goals and could have had three more. Ruairi Deane was a warrior for them, taking the game to Kerry by the simple tactic of running in straight lines through their defence.

Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan will be in danger of losing his place after this performance. The second goal was a carbon copy of what happened in the League final against Mayo when he got nothing. He shouldn't have come for it, but when he did decide to advance, it was incumbent on him to take man, ball and all, or at least one of them.

Tadhg Morley didn't cover himself in glory either and they allowed Brian Hurley an easy overhead flick to the net. This is the kind of elementary mistake you don't expect at this level from Kerry.

The first goal was another simple mistake: A ball thrown in on the 20-metre line was flicked on to Deane, who passed it to Luke Connolly, who flicked it to the net with not a Kerry defender in sight. This is something we have seen from Kerry in the recent past, the defence going missing.

And of course the penalty revealed panic after Killian O'Hanlon was allowed to wade through the heart of the defence before finally being pulled down by Morley.

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There were lots of other similar chances offered up for goals and points. Quite simply, this Kerry defence is much happier playing ball than marking their men, or doing the other unpleasant tasks which are the first call of duty for a back, not the last.

Great Kerry teams of the past knew this. Páidí ó Sé and Tim Kennelly must have been throwing a few swear words from heaven as they watched some of the poor defending from this team.

There is no room for Champagne football when there's a game to be won - especially in a Munster final against Cork.

Having said that, the Kerry attack was smooth. Stephen O'Brien, David Clifford and Sean O'Shea worked very hard to create space and chances, and took some lovely points from play. The Cork defence was just as open as Kerry.

It all made for an exciting match but the quality was not up to All-Ireland-winning standard.

Paul Geaney was petulant, and ended up with a red card. It reflected the fact that things weren't going well for him in the game, but it looks as if the Kerry forward line are going to have to run up a huge total to win games as their backs will let in a lot at the other end.

Kerry, so, are bound for the Super 8, and depending on the draw and how kind it is, Cork may also be heading for it too. The only problem for them is that Dublin will be waiting for them, and their defence won't be so friendly.

The good news for Cork, though, is at least they have discovered they have a football team again.

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