Tuesday 17 July 2018

Race for Sam is wide open, insists O'Shea

Offaly legend Matt Connor and Kerry great Jack O’Shea after being inducted into the GAA Hall of Fame in Croke Park. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Offaly legend Matt Connor and Kerry great Jack O’Shea after being inducted into the GAA Hall of Fame in Croke Park. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Any of the four teams left in the running can win the All-Ireland title, according to Kerry legend Jack O'Shea.

With two semi-finals taking place at Croke Park this weekend, O'Shea believes that all four sides still standing will fancy their chances of going all the way.

"I think any of the four of them can win it," O'Shea said. "I basically think it's how the midfield performs on the four teams, and I think they all have very good attacking half-back lines."

According to the bookmakers, Tyrone are the outside bet of the weekend but O'Shea insists he won't be surprised if they topple Dublin on Sunday.

"I've been very impressed with Tyrone, they were very good in the Ulster final and they were very good the last day and very mechanical in the way they are working. Everybody knows what they have to do, they are going to take a lot of stopping and I think they are really going to put it up to Dublin. I think if Dublin can't score from outside 35 yards, they will find it very hard to run up a good score against Tyrone.

"It will be a really tight contest and I think any of the four teams are capable of beating each other."

The seven-time All-Ireland winner was speaking as he was inducted into the GAA's Hall of Fame along with former Offaly footballer Matt Connor. Kilkenny's Frank Cummins and Faithful hurler Pádraig Horan were also honoured at a ceremony in the GAA museum at Croke Park.

And ahead of Kerry's replay clash with Mayo tomorrow, the Cahirciveen man insists the Kingdom are 'lucky' to still be in the hunt after last Sunday's draw.

"I thought it was a very good match, a great contest. I think a lot of people don't give this Mayo team enough credit. I think they're a very good side. To me, they've probably been the best team in the country over five or six years, consistently, and the bigger the challenge the better they play.


"So I wasn't surprised that they really put it up to Kerry. They asked Kerry an awful lot of questions and whether Kerry can answer them or not now... but I thought Mayo were the better team last weekend and Kerry were lucky to get the result in the end."

He expects to Eamonn Fitzmaurice to make changes to the Kerry team this time around. O'Shea believes Jack Barry will be drafted in from the start and insists he wouldn't be surprised if 2014 Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue was left out of the starting side.

"I think James has had a problem with injury in the last number of weeks," he said. "If Kerry don't start him on Saturday I wouldn't be surprised, he's struggling. He was very good against Cork down in Killarney, but again Kerry were so dominant in that game and there was always good ball coming into him.

"I do feel that he's been carrying an injury and we haven't seen the best of him yet. If we get a good dry day, we might see the best of James O'Donoghue."

And if rule allowed, O'Shea would draft Kerry minor star David Clifford straight into the side, insisting the Fossa youngster is the best he has seen at that age.

"If I had the chance I'd play him! He's old enough, he's big enough, a phenomenal talent, probably the best I've ever seen at his age.

"And his attitude is very good. I've a good feeling that he won't go to Australia, even if he's offered to go I think he wants to stay in Ireland and play for Kerry. And for football in general I think he's a superstar in the making, providing he can health-wise keep himself right.

"I've no trouble with his interest in the game, he has that. His heart is in the right place and I think he's one that we'll be looking at for a while."



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