View From The Stands: Five Talking Points From Kerry v Mayo

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2014-08-24 15.29.55

The view from the stands yesterday. Photo by Gavin O’Connor

Gavin O’Connor was at Croke Park yesterday and pinpoints the main talking points from the game against Mayo…

What happened to our spare man?

You could spend all day breaking things down tactically, dissecting every minutiae of the game, but there is still a lot to be said for sheer drive, heart and determination.

Just after James O’Donoghue added to Kerry’s advantage at the beginning of the second half, Mayo showed that in spades.

A man down, they hunted in packs, isolating our defence from attack that put a halt to our gallop for almost the entirety of the second half. Aidan O’Shea was like a grizzly bear pawing at wild salmon as Kerry attempted to move the ball up the field.

Fionn Fitzgerald was our free man, but when you can’t break the first tackle or move the ball well, a spare man becomes redundant. All credit here must go to Mayo for a monumental effort that thankfully ran out of puff in the end.

Continued below…

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Was it a sending off?

Yes it was, but using a bit of common sense, the call was harsh as Lee Keegan looked to be more moving Johnny Buckley out of the way with his leg rather than actually attempting to do damage to him.

It was lucky for Mayo that the sending off was before half-time, this allowed them ample time to regroup during the break. On the flip side of this, Kerry four points and a man up ushered in complacency which Mayo pounced on.

The reaction of Donnchadh Walsh played a part in making the decision for referee David Colderick. The Cromane man pleaded with the  referee while jabbing his knee in  the air violently. Not saying he got the player sent off, but he may have influenced Colderick in that direction with his theatrical jabs.

Bench saves the day

If Kieran Donaghy had not been introduced yesterday and Kerry lost, I wonder would there have been many calls around the county that he should have seen more game time. His stock had declined over the last couple of years – partly because of injury, partly because of some lacklustre performances.

Donaghy has always been a man for the big occasion and his influence yesterday was big even by his standards. He won a free with his first piece of high-fielding and with the second laying the ball to O’Donoghue to strike to the net. Those fast hands and that razor-sharp awareness sets him apart even more so than the fielding.

Kieran O’Leary showed coolness with the leveller, Barry John Keane made an instant impact, as did Killian Young. The bench is one of the aces up our sleeve.

Heading for Limerick

Much controversy has come with the announcement that the replay will be played next Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds. It will suit Kerry down to the ground, accustomed as we are with the venue.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice seemed accepting of this while his counterpart James Horan was less than impressed. The Mayo county board launched a failed appeal of the decision to have the game changed to the day before the hurling final in two weeks.

You’d wonder with Mayo looking the more fatigued side at the final whistle, was their issue with the venue or rather than the match is being played a week after a game where they just had to play an entire half a man down? Again, this will suit Kerry.

We normally don’t do comebacks

Going back years, Kerry were known for their spirited comebacks, but in recent years we have tended to lose out in big games where it has been very tight.

Last year we led Dublin with minutes remaining only to lose by seven points, same again in the 2011 final when we lost right at the death.

The nearest was a comeback against Donegal in the 2012 quarter final when we cut the gap to one at the very end, but it was too little too late. Our great victories have generally been emphatic, our losses were games we let slip or could never get a hold of.

Yesterday was different. With five minutes remaining and five points down we looked dead and buried, the vast of majority fans believed it. Thankfully this time the comeback was in them so going forward let’s hope that spirit and resolve remains.

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