Sunday 18 August 2019

'If Dublin play to their maximum, they will win five-in-a-row' - Kieran Donaghy backs Blues and has high hopes for Kerry

Rory O'Carroll
Rory O'Carroll
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It was a swift but natural progression.

It's still less than a year since Kieran Donaghy was waging war for Kerry in the inaugural 'Super 8s' but yesterday his move from the grass to the gantry was confirmed as he was unveiled as Sky Sports' newest addition to their team for the 2019 championship.

Some Kerry pundits have been accused of playing down the chances of their own team in the past.

Donaghy was reluctant to talk about his role with the Galway hurlers but even allowing for the Kerry defeat in the league final to Mayo, he gave the Kingdom's footballers more than a puncher's chance when it comes to halting Dublin's five-in-a-row dreams.

"I do think they have a chance," he said.

"I don't think they played well against Mayo in the league final, and were still just a point down with a minute to go.

Kieran Donaghy (bottom left) at the launch of the Sky Sports GAA coverage with JJ Delaney, Ollie Canning, Senan Connell, Brian Carney, Jamesie O’Connor, Peter Canavan and Rachel Wyse with the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups
Kieran Donaghy (bottom left) at the launch of the Sky Sports GAA coverage with JJ Delaney, Ollie Canning, Senan Connell, Brian Carney, Jamesie O’Connor, Peter Canavan and Rachel Wyse with the Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups

"That's because Mayo didn't let Kerry play well, but I think there's a good bit more in Kerry than what we saw in the league final.

"But they have to go prove that now. We've been saying that the last few years, against Galway last year, the league final this year, and a few times it's been put up to Kerry they didn't have the answers, so they have to find the answers to win the All-Ireland, to beat Dublin, Galway, Tyrone, all the teams that are knocking (around).

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"But they're right there with a chance, if they get in on the big day, and their forwards hit form."

Dublin are still the market leaders but he sees changes afoot for Jim Gavin's side, not least the recall of Rory O'Carroll back into the set-up.

"I expect he'll be straight back in," said the former Kerry star.

"If you're going for five in a row, you get one chance. These Dublin boys won't get another chance, and you don't know what injuries lads will pick up, lads fall in and out of form."

Much has been made of Dublin's susceptibility under a high ball but Donaghy sees things slightly differently.

Gavin's side, he insists, aren't weak in that area but suggests instead that the rest of their game is so strong that it gets some undue attention.

Dublin have been so dominant, even the smallest sliver will be pounced upon.

"It's not their full-back that's the issue, or it's not the high ball in that's the issue, it's that that's the only area where they're not completely excelling.

"We all look at that as this huge area of vulnerability, because when you look around the pitch there's not much else to pick out.

"So that really gets highlighted. But if you want a round peg for a (round hole), (play) Rory O'Carroll, and get everyone else around him.

"He's a full-back, it's not like he has to learn how to get his touch back or his kicking or his form, he's going to be in at full-back, dogged, hopping off you, tight, a good leader, well liked within the group, a very solid guy. So yeah, it would make no sense for me not to call them in."

Donaghy pointed to Kerry's experience with Mike McCarthy who returned to the squad just weeks before championship in 2009 and helped them to an All-Ireland title.

"Mike McCarthy left us, now he was older and he was retired. But he was only 30 but he wanted to retire.

"None of us wanted him to retire, the manager didn't want him to retire but that's what suited his life best in 2006.

"In 2009, Mike Mac landed in to a training session in May and helps us win an All-Ireland in 2009.

"We were all delighted to get Mike Mac back, we weren't going, 'Oh why did you retire for two years? Or we weren't saying, 'Would we have won in 2008 if you'd stayed and were marking one of the Tyrone forwards?"

However, he stressed the chasing pack still need Dublin to have an off day if they are to stop the drive for five.

"The Offaly boys are still all remembered for that game (in 1982), and that's the caveat that's out there for every player, doing the extra bit of training in the morning, 'am I going to be the man that shows up and does the business?'

"Dublin will have to have an off day, because if they play to their maximum, with the squad they have, they'll win the All-Ireland. But not everyone plays to the maximum, so it's about catching them when they're not quite at it."

Irish Independent

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