'Fellas are tipping Kerry for All-Irelands, you have to wake up and smell the coffee' - Tomás Ó Sé on Kerry's chances
Peter Keane's side managed to hold on for a three-point win in the Munster SFC final, but Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé believes the Rebels showed up serious flaws in the the Kingdom's defence.
Kerry were hit for three goals in the game but were opened up time and time again, as Cork, who will be playing division three football next season, ran down the heart of their defence with ease.
"Fellows are tipping Kerry for All-Irelands, you have to wake up and smell the coffee. It's not all about having forwards, it's about having a solid defense," said Ó Sé on The Throw-In podcast in association with Bord Gáis Energy.
"You have to start with your solid defence. It's a work in progress but I'm glad it happened now and not in the Super 8s like it did last year."
The An Gaeltacht clubman thinks the move towards mass-defences in Gaelic football over the past decade has meant that players have lost the art of man-marking and that Kerry in particular lack a Johnny Cooper-style player in the backs.
"Those types of players are thin on the ground all over the country at the moment because of the style of defense that has come in in the last ten years," said Ó Sé.
"Peter Crowley was the go-to man. Your go-to man has to be in the fullback line that's where the dangerous forwards are. He was put back and was marking the main forwards in every game they played in the league he was the guy to do it."
Ó Sé was quick to reject calls for 15 men behind the ball for Kerry and thinks that the individual defenders need to step up to the mark and take on the responsibility of turnover possession and winning their own ball.
"I'm not saying you should have eight, nine, ten bodies situated back there but, you still have to have a solid core defense to build on," said Ó Sé.
"What I mean by that is you need to actually have defenders who can stop teams running at you, or kicking long ball into you, or marking players one-on-one."
The Irish Independent columnist and Sunday Game pundit believes Kerry allowed Cork an avenue back into the game by not going man-to-man on the Cork kick-out and in doing so, gave the Rebels 'twice as much ball' as they had in last year's Munster final.
"Any time Kerry had possession and were driving at Cork they had them under all kinds of pressure," said Ó Sé.
"David Clifford had Kevin Flahive under all sorts of pressure. When they moved the ball quickly and gave it to him, it was okay."
Noting the addition of Donie Buckley to the Kerry coaching personnel this year, Ó Sé suggested a more orthodox style of play where work-rate, turnovers and winning primary possession were adopted as Kerry's style of play, ahead of sitting back in a zonal-defence.
"You can either push up on the kick-outs, you can defend numerically around the middle and try to slow down ball going in and then you need your men inside," added Ó Sé.