Friday 19 January 2018

Vincent Hogan talks to five players who have experience of the white-hot heat of battle

It's a Munster semi-final that will have huge implications for the rest of the summer. Vincent Hogan talks to five players who have experience of the white-hot heat of battle and asks where tomorrow's game will be won and lost

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

In Kerry they like swagger, so the fallout from that tentative possession game played against Tipperary two weeks ago has triggered sweet evocations of their past.

It's not the Kerry way, we are told, to play football predicated on an avoidance of risk. But their carelessness last September may have changed things. Jack O'Connor would not be human if he didn't endure a contrary winter, remembering how his side all but handed the old canister to Dublin.

So he seems set on a partial re-invention of Kerry now. He wants a team that guards possession more studiously. Unheard of in the Kingdom? Not exactly. When Kerry beat Tyrone in the 1986 All-Ireland final, their desire to play a possession game was blamed for an almost calamitously slow start.

Con Houlihan wrote at the time: "Mick O'Dwyer must have felt like a hen that hatched out a clutch of eggs and found herself mothering ducklings."

Now similar charges swirl around Kerry as they head to Pairc Ui Chaoimh for tomorrow's Munster semi-final.

Are they, like that team of '86, just coming to the end of a natural cycle? Or merely exploring different avenues back to September glory?

We canvassed the views of some former Cork and Kerry All-Ireland winners to get the tactical lowdown on this latest collision of age-old rivals.

Irish Independent

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