Thursday 24 October 2019

Michael Verney: 'Kerry still have much to learn for 2020 - on and off the pitch'

Stephen O’Brien shoots for goal from a tight angle, with Paul Geaney shouting for a pass – Stephen Cluxton saved the shot. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen O’Brien shoots for goal from a tight angle, with Paul Geaney shouting for a pass – Stephen Cluxton saved the shot. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

If there's one particular lesson that a young Kerry side can learn from the Dubs, it's their ability to do things with military precision.

It's hardly a surprise given Jim Gavin's army background that the element of chance is taken out of the equation where possible with the development of the palmed goal being a prime example.

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Dublin play the percentages - Diarmuid Connolly's botched goal attempt late on was a rare deviation as he should have played the ball on a plate for Con O'Callaghan to score - with great effect. Had Stephen O'Brien done likewise in the 53rd minute and played Paul Geaney through on goal to slam the ball to the net, then there might be different discussions taking place around the country this week.

O'Brien's shot was a low-percentage attempt against one of the game's greatest goalkeepers whereas Geaney or the on-rushing David Clifford could have walked the ball into the net and drawn them level.

Margins

For all their undoubted talent, Kerry are still quite raw in the finer points of the game, the small margins which don't separate victory from defeat against most sides but cost you dearly against a team of Dublin's calibre.

Two other instances spring to mind as game-changers. David Moran is a shoo-in for an All-Star but he'll regret letting Eoin Murchan slip out of his grasp eight seconds into the second half. The midfield powerhouse was the only one with a chance to halt Murchan's gallop but rather than take a black card which would have finished his day's work, he hesitated.

A second later, the ball was in the Kerry net and Peter Keane's men were chasing the game. That wouldn't have happened at the other end, as evidenced in the 28th minute.

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When a Dublin attack broke down, Kerry were left with a dangerous counter-attack where Tadhg Morley was played through and the full-back thundered towards the opposition goal with a green flag in mind.

Con O'Callaghan had tracked Morley the whole way but when he made his tackle just outside his own 13-metre line, Morley wasn't going any further and he was hauled down as Mick Fitzsimons rushed in to help.

Call it cynical, call it smart but there was no way Morley was going to be allowed to go for goal without a great degree of turbulence and Tomás Ó Sé's misinterpreted "scumbag" remark three years ago comes to mind when speaking of Dublin.

It doesn't matter who it is, but when the need arises they have the personnel to do what's needed to alter the course of the game. It ended with a Seán O'Shea pointed free but it could have been worse had O'Callaghan not been prepared to take one for the team.

While Kerry were willing to die last Saturday night to prevail, Dublin were willing to kill and that's what sets them apart with Ó Sé labelling the Dubs "the greatest team that have ever lived in the GAA". An inexperienced Kerry side will learn from it - 11 of the starting team played their first senior final two weeks ago - in the Kingdom legend's view but he doesn't feel success is as assured as many predict.

"People are saying they might come (good) - there's a couple of those fellas that are around three or four years now and my question would be against Dublin, are those guys going to be good enough to beat Dublin one-on-one in a backline? Ó Sé asked on 'The Throw-in' Podcast.

"This attitude that Kerry have a right to win and that they'll win four or five, where's that coming from? I hate that kind of talk, it gives those lads playing senior that haven't won this attitude of, 'Oh it's going to come'.

"It's not going to come, you have to make it. That's the challenge facing them but there are so many positives to take out of their performance."

The Dubs always make their own luck and Kerry will have to do likewise if they are to eventually take down the juggernaut.

Irish Independent

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