Wednesday 13 December 2017

Kerry will compromise on style again if needs must, insists Sheehy

Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy with manager Eamonn Fitmaurice
Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy with manager Eamonn Fitmaurice
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mikey Sheehy admits Kerry will continue to compromise on style if have to in their bid to retain their All-Ireland football title.

The princely forward, a selector to manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice for the last two-and-a-half seasons, says he has no qualms about how they set their team up to play and has insisted they will continue to cut their cloth to suit this summer.

Sheehy says pragmatism in dealing with different opponents will dictate how they play rather than any adherence to a 'Kerry way'.

"You can't legislate for how a game is going to work out. You are going to have to plan differently for different opposition," he said.

"We went out with a game plan in the All-Ireland final last year and we'd be quite happy to do it again this year if we thought we'd win it again.

"I'm sure even the Dubs would admit that (need for a change in approach) last year against Donegal," he said.

"They started well, Jim McGuinness had a game plan and the Dubs, defensively, fell asunder.

"You do have to set yourself up, I won't say ultra-defensively, but you have to give your full-back line protection and cut down on the space."

Ahead of their Munster semi-final against Tipperary, Sheehy acknowledges the profound impact that Jim McGuinness has had on the game during his four years over Donegal but feels, in Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Kerry have unearthed one of the great innovative thinkers too.

"He certainly has," Sheehy acknowledged, when asked of the Donegal man's impact on the game's fundamentals.

"And it will probably change again in 10 years' time when some other guy will come up with ideas. But I would like to think that Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) is a very smart guy, he doesn't leave anything to chance and he's very astute."

Sheehy admits defence was an issue during a league campaign that required Kerry to get a point against Tyrone in their last match to preserve Division 1 status.

"Our defensive record was the worst of all teams in Division 1 and that certainly wouldn't do in the championship. We're working very hard on tackling and basically trying to defend a bit better. It wouldn't do in the championship what we threw out in most games," he said. "Defensively we will have to improve."

Despite having Colm Cooper, Tommy Walsh and Paul Galvin available again, the eight-time All-Ireland winner likes to think reputations won't count for anything when it comes to matters of team selection and feels, as a management, they have already shown their capacity to make hard calls, rightly or wrongly.

"What I would like to think about us as a management is that we'll be consistent like we have been since 2013. No matter who you are, reputations count for nothing. Whoever is playing well in training and in the A v B games will get the jersey."

Walsh has yet to make his mark but it took Tadhg Kennelly until high summer in 2009 to make a real impact after returning from AFL and Sheehy can see Walsh following a similar path.

"People are going to have to be patient with Tommy. He's been away since the end of 2009. It's a different game. Two years ago he had a very serious injury. He tore his hamstring off the bone. He's fine fitness-wise but we have to be patient with him in relation to his football. He'll have a major role to play at some stage during the year."

Irish Independent

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