Sunday 25 February 2018

I would never do anything to hurt the Kerry cause

Eoin Liston

Eoin Liston

I want to address a few things that have been said and written this past week. There appears to be some kind of misunderstanding based on a tweet I put out regarding the Kerry team for the Munster final.

In one newspaper interview, Eamonn Fitzmaurice described his disappointment at "former Kerry players peddling the team" before it was announced, and the same article suggests that the manager's disappointment was directed at me.

It is apparently based around "putting it out there on social media".

To say I was taken aback to read this would be an understatement. On Wednesday last week, when I tweeted "hearing major shock on the way re Kerry team", I was merely stating what was being said around the county that morning.

There was no way it could be said I was peddling team news, as I genuinely did not know the team that was picked – I had only heard that Kieran Donaghy wasn't starting. Eamonn said himself he didn't tell the players to keep a lid on things and, therefore, 30 people knew about it – and it doesn't take long for big news to travel.

SOURCES

Also, I must express that I had heard it from a number of people who were not related to any of the players on the Kerry senior football panel.

The point I am making is that this information was already very much in the public domain, and the various people who mentioned it to me would not be considered 'sources' so, therefore, my tweet gave nothing away.

Social media is now very much part of the world, and it is something the GAA world will have to get used to. Yes, it can be used incorrectly and irresponsibly, but I feel there is no way that I could be accused of doing so in this instance.

As Eamonn pointed out, I was in the Kerry dressing-room for many years, and I am well aware of what it takes to generate the right spirit at that level. I would never do anything that I felt would be detrimental to the preparations of the Kerry team.

I am disappointed that such was implied in the criticism of me after what was a great performance by Kerry, and that this misunderstanding has been played out in the national media.

On the field this weekend, the big focus from a football point of view will obviously centre on the Leinster final. Based on what I saw two weeks ago, I can't see anything other than a comfortable Dublin win.

Mick O'Dowd will not need to do much to motivate his team, as this is a clash that has always got the best out of the underdogs. But there is a massive gulf in the quality of the respective panels this time around.

Meath seem to lack mobility around the middle, a problem Kildare had too.

What the Dubs have in abundance is the ability to move at pace, with support runners making them difficult to stop, and we saw how devastating it can be in their last four encounters with the Lilies.

If the Royals are to have any chance, they will need to devise a plan to cope with this, and that means keeping things very narrow and being very disciplined in the tackle.

There can be no space through the middle or else the likes of Michael Darragh Macauley, Paul Flynn and the two half-backs, Jack McCaffrey and James McCarthy, will just plough through.

The number of goal chances Dublin created the last time out using this direct approach was staggering. Down showed in their recent Ulster championship game against Donegal that a disciplined defensive strategy can make things extremely difficult for more talented opponents. Even still, it will be the shock of the summer if Jim Gavin doesn't secure his second trophy of the season.

Speaking of Down, I felt sorry for them going out to Derry last week. They put in massive effort to try and get over Donegal in that aforementioned semi-final, but just came up short.

To have to lift yourself to play Derry again, a team that they had just beaten in Ulster after another titanic battle, must have been very difficult. Derry, meanwhile, would have had all the motivation to put right what they got wrong in the first clash.

This evening, Fermanagh and Cavan also have to face each other a second time within a matter of weeks. Surely, if the qualifier system remains, these type of situations should be avoided unless it is impossible to do so.

Irish Independent

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