Friday 20 July 2018

Eoin Liston: Red Hands have only themselves to blame for 'dive' call

23 August 2015; Kieran Donaghy, Kerry, in action against Justin McMahon, Tyrone. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kerry v Tyrone. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
23 August 2015; Kieran Donaghy, Kerry, in action against Justin McMahon, Tyrone. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kerry v Tyrone. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Eoin Liston

Eoin Liston

There was plenty of talk after the final whistle about the performance of referee Maurice Deegan. Certainly, Tyrone fans might have felt a bit sore about some of the marginal calls that went Kerry's way.

They were awarded one penalty and there were shouts for a second, and to my mind they were unlucky not to have got both.

For the second, the question was did Padraig McNulty dive or was he pulled down? Maybe the question of a dive was in the referee's mind after Tyrone's win over Monaghan in the All-Ireland quarter-final, so possibly it was a case of the past coming back to haunt them.

It's hard to have any complaints about that and, overall, I thought Deegan controlled the game well.

Those incidents weren't what decided this game. It was Tyrone's failure to capitalise on the goal chances they worked, missed frees and poor kick-outs in the second half that cost them.

And for Kerry, who struggled to get to grips with the challenge in front of them in the first half, it was courage, desire, skill, and the strength of the bench after the break that won it.

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Make no mistake, this was a stressful afternoon for the Kingdom. I found it tough to watch.

I didn't feel comfortable at any stage until right before the end when Barry John Keane kicked the score that put four between the teams.

This was a fantastic contest, particularly in such poor conditions, and no-one left before the end. Kerry created 29 scoring chances from 40 possessions in the opposition '45', resulting in 18 scores. For Tyrone it was 25 opportunities for 32 possessions and 12 scores.

In the first half Tyrone got a great start and they would have gone in at the break disappointed not to have been a few points ahead, never mind one behind.

Kerry didn't push up enough on Niall Morgan's kickouts and this meant that they had a great platform to create attacks.

We were turning over soft ball due to poor passing and handling, as opposed to under ferocious pressure in the tackle and that's unforgivable - possession is vital and you can't afford just to give it away.

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At this stage Johnny Buckley fired over three great points when his team really needed those scores. It proved what a great decision it was to start him.

Overall, I didn't feel the movement from the forwards at this stage was good enough, though James O'Donoghue was trying his heart out and got a few great scores, particularly from long-range dead balls.

Kieran Donaghy was taken off at half-time and it was difficult for him being double-marked. When you're getting that sort of attention with the rain bucketing down it really wasn't a day for the long ball.

He was replaced by Paul Geaney, who came in and got three points. He was so good against Kildare and had to settle for a place on the bench, which just shows you how much éamonn Fitzmaurice has convinced the players to buy into the idea of the squad.


Tyrone punched holes down the middle of the Kerry defence in the second half and created goal chances, getting a penalty and forcing Brendan Kealy into a tremendous save.

This will be cause of concern ahead of the final for éamonn, who knows that they can't cough up chances like that.

When Tyrone got their goal, from a penalty, they had all the momentum and they were pushing really hard. From five points down they were level with ten minutes to go.

Read more: Sean Cavanagh: All we want is fair play

Before conceding the goal Kerry had begun to play quite laterally and I would have preferred to see them driving on.

It took them a few minutes to regain their composure, but they deserve great credit for the way they steadied the ship, with Donnchadh Walsh and Anthony Maher getting vital scores.

When there was five in it David Moran was taken off, after rumours before the game that a hamstring strain was going to keep him out of the match. I have to say I was surprised to see him go given the way he had played, keeping Mattie Donnelly quiet, winning ball and distributing well.

The management probably thought that they needed to get Bryan Sheehan on the field for his free-taking as it would be worth a few vital points before the final whistle.

Read more: Cool heads and strong finish a winning mix for classy Kingdom

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