Saturday 20 January 2018

Kingdom down but not out yet

Passion is a huge problem for Kerry, writes Páidí ó Sé

Last week's Munster semi-final turned out the way I thought it would. There have been a lot of post-mortems conducted in Kerry over the past week in regards to the style of football the team is playing in particular.

I know from my own experience what the players and manager will have to deal with. Still, it isn't right to have a lot of naturally talented footballers playing negative football.

The experiment of moving Kieran Donaghy to the middle of the field, or having him operate on his own half-back line, has failed. In my opinion, it was never a runner. You might move him to midfield to catch a few high balls if needed but that's the only reason for doing so. I felt that if Kerry were going to get a goal last Sunday then he would have to be involved. I wouldn't have taken him or Paul Galvin off.

Passion is a huge problem for Kerry. It doesn't matter what style of football you play, without passion -- the kind Ireland showed yesterday -- you have nothing. For me, this is one area where Kerry are lacking. They let Cork throw them around the field. Mick O'Dwyer once said that he wasn't advocating dirty play, but if you got the opportunity to crash into your man then you should take it. Cork seemed to have adopted that attitude and they certainly came out on the right side of the physical exchanges.

Kerry need to regroup. They have four weeks until their next game which gives them time to recharge their batteries. It's also an opportunity to get out of each other's hair and play a bit of club football which will do them no harm. A break from the routine will be good for them.

At the moment the frontrunners for the All-Ireland appear to be Cork and Dublin but I would still hold out hope for Kerry.

Cork looked the fitter team last Sunday. They now look certainties to win the Munster championship and can prepare for that game with an eye to the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Their training regime seems to be working as they were able to bring back injured players and slot them into the team. Ciarán Sheehan kicked a great score in the first half and he seemed to have some of his old spark back. Donncha O'Connor and Paul Kerrigan are moving quite well too. I feel Cork will be reasonably happy with their progress but they have room to improve, particularly in defence.

Since the foundation of the GAA, the role of the defender has been to stop his man from scoring and the function of the forward is to score and to make scores. From a Kerry point of view, that has gone out the window. Kerry, and other teams, are defending in blankets with forwards given the extra role of defending. Of course when players lose the ball they should try to recover it, no matter where they play but the mentality of a forward should be to get scores. He won't have any problem stopping his man from scoring if he gets the ball and puts it over the bar himself.

It was a breath of fresh air to see Sligo and Galway play such attacking football last Saturday. I really enjoyed watching the match and I know a lot of other people did too. There was plenty of free-flowing football and it was great to see balls being kicked diagonally into open spaces and some fantastic scores as well. It was a joy to watch two teams playing football and not a blanket defence in sight.

Kildare have their first championship outing today. Offaly lost their manager at a bad time but it couldn't be helped. The whole situation in Offaly needs to be overhauled. They should stand back and look at the structures, with a view to understanding why the county has been performing so badly. Offaly have had success in the past and have produced great footballers over the years. It is a county with a serious tradition. St Mary's College from Edenderry won the All-Ireland Colleges final this year. That's a good indication of the strength of football in a county. For today, I can't see anything other than a Kildare win.

Another member of the great Murphy family of Camp passed on last week. Pádraig, who won a Junior All-Ireland medal alongside his brother Seán with Kerry in 1949, was a retired national school principal. The Murphy brothers have the distinction of winning minor, junior and senior All-Ireland medals and are heroes of the Dingle peninsula.

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