Tuesday 24 October 2017

Keen students of the game have taken leaf out of Down's book

Kerry's more considered approach to big games nowadays is a change of style, writes Páidí ó Sé

Paidi O Se

P laying Down has always been a difficult task for Kerry. Over the years, they put a lot of thought into their tactics when it came to playing Kerry and in recent times Tyrone have done the same.

But now Kerry have started to wise up and they too have embraced tactics. In many ways, our attitude in Kerry has changed, and we are putting a lot more consideration into how we put our team into battle.

For a long time we were dependent on skill, which is great to have, but in the modern game it has to be married with good planning. I think we have moved away from our traditional style a little bit and are now studying the opposition considerably more.

The first All-Ireland final I ever went to was in 1968, Down and Kerry in Croke Park. My neighbour Paddy Fitz brought me along and I'll never forget it because of an early incident which caused great commotion in the stand around me between a young Kerry half-forward called Brendan Lynch and Down's Joe Lennon, who had written a book on how to play Gaelic football. I went on to cherish that book, it's a great read, and that day it was a great contest. I enjoyed it even though Kerry didn't win.

Last year's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Down is another one that sticks out in my mind. There is a view that if Tomás ó Sé, Paul Galvin and Darragh ó Sé had been playing Kerry would have won. I'd question that. I think that Down team deserved their victory and they could have won the All-Ireland with a bit of luck.

Despite Down consistently getting one over on us, I still have a fondness for them. Last night I had the pleasure of entertaining over 100 of their supporters in the pub. Everyone is looking forward to today, and both have something to play for, making it an even more appealing prospect.

The weather is good and the pitch is in great shape so it will make for a great afternoon's football and hopefully Armagh will do us a favour against Cork.

There has been a lot of talk in Kerry over the last few days about the under 21s' massive loss to Cork on Wednesday night. In the lead-up to the game, we felt that it was going to be tight but if I'm being honest there was a lack of confidence about the place.

I know from being on an All-Ireland-winning under 21 side and managing one too that having the right mix of players is essential if you want to go the whole way. There needs to be a good cross-section of established seniors in the starting 15 and Cork had that.

You don't have to look any further than Aidan Walsh to see how vital it is to have a senior player with experience and ability on your team. Not only is he head and shoulders over the under 21 players, he is a guy who is head and shoulders over lots of the country's top senior footballers. Cork also had Ciarán Sheehan, and players like them are invaluable. Going into the game, I didn't

think there would be such a difference between them at the finish.

I'm probably the wrong man to comment on the current relationship between the Kerry football set-up and the press as on many occasions during my management career I kept both myself and my team away from the media.

Having said that and standing well back from it all, I do feel for the people who haven't got the luxury of being able to sit into their car on a Sunday and go to watch their county play.

These people are totally dependent on the local bible to keep them informed on Kerry's progress and it's a shame that this vehicle of information is taken away from them.

I hope it will be resolved sooner rather than later as I predict we've a long summer of football ahead and it would be a shame for everyone if it wasn't documented the same way it was in the past.

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