Tuesday 12 December 2017

Kingdom set to ring more changes for replay

Fitzmaurice: Team speculation
Fitzmaurice: Team speculation
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice may name his team for Saturday's Munster SFC final replay against Cork as early as tonight, with plenty of speculation as to the number of changes he may make.

Fitzmaurice and his management made five changes from their semi-final win over Tipperary for last week's drawn game and, while the extent of that makeover may not be repeated, there is still much scope to overhaul things.

At least one, possibly two, changes could be made in defence. Paul Murphy has recovered from the shoulder injury that he picked up on a warm-weather training camp in Portugal that forced him to out of the Tipperary game.

Murphy came on in the 66th minute against Cork and his abrasive style and ability to block the path of runners is a potential remedy for where Kerry were vulnerable.

Aidan O'Mahony could also come into the picture for the first time this season with the requirement for a more physical approach, but his lack of game-time is an issue.

Fionn Fitzgerald bailed Kerry out with his last-gasp equaliser against the Rebels but that doesn't guarantee him a start as Donncha O'Connor lost him for the goal he scored and created.

The emphasis on greater physical presence is likely to prompt Anthony Maher's inclusion from the start this time.

Maher come off the bench for the black-carded David Moran, but by then Alan O'Connor was taking a firm hold at midfield.

Maher is better equipped to deal with that challenge, but Bryan Sheehan is unlikely to be left off, given the quality of his passing and his free-taking.

His absence was felt when James O'Donoghue was wide of the mark with a late '45', with Fitzmaurice admitting afterwards he was trying to get Brendan Kealy up to take.

Sheehan is a possible centre-forward for the replay, with Stephen O'Brien most vulnerable in the half-forward line.

Colm Cooper is likely to be kept in reserve again, but Paul Geaney may put pressure on Barry John Keane, despite his explosive second quarter the last day and his form in training.

Irish Independent

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