Barry O’Shea: Kerry Players Ready To Spill Blood

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Suits Select July

barry_oshea_1WHEN the Kerry players head off for training in Killarney over the next three weeks leading up to the game against Mayo there will be a buzz and excitement in the air.

The drudgery of training earlier in the year is long behind them. As long as they are playing well and fit, they will be looking forward to it every night.

The majority of the guys will have that feeling and it’s infectious. Good evenings and Fitzgerald Stadium, you can’t ask for better than that.

Of course now it’s different with the closed sessions. When I played our practice games we had an audience and that brought its own buzz – maybe you’d try that bit harder with onlookers. But under the current gaze of social media I think the management made the right call to train behind closed doors.

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Advanced Fitness

The closed sessions enabled Kerry to come out with something different for the Cork game. Had they been training in front of a crowd, what they had in store for Cork would have been broadcasted all over the country two weeks beforehand.

The players have been good at keeping secrets too! There’s almost a ‘Donegal feel’ to it and that’s no harm either.

I’m sure the players are used to it now they have the place to themselves; if anything happens in training it stays there. Some of the traditionalist mightn’t like it, but they have to move on too. Times are changing in football and this is just another part of it.

There’s no one going to be going through the motions, the experienced guys will know what’s expected and the younger lads will sense that and it will lift from there.

Peter Crowley is an example of a player who should be really pushing hard in training as he had been perceived to be one of our starters and lost his position. Also any player who thinks they could lose their place is going to spill blood over the next couple of weeks.

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Stephen O’Brien missed out in the last game – though it was because of injury – and he’s really going to have to bust his chops to get back in the side. You could name off six or seven guys for different reasons who’ll have to really lay down a marker.

As long as no injuries come out of it, that’s exactly what a manager wants. Our quarter-final and Munster final games didn’t bring much intensity from the opposition so we need to replicate that in training.

Playing Mayo, I wouldn’t be as confident to say that because of history we’ll beat them. This is a different Mayo side as they’re physical and more clinical. They find a way to win now, whereas before they found a way to lose.

Everyone is predicting Mayo v Kerry to be an open game, but I’m not sure it will. Mayo will know well the pitfalls of going toe to toe with Kerry so they might be a bit reluctant to head into a shootout.

I think Eamonn Fitzmaurice could make a couple of changes for the Mayo game. If Stephen O’Brien comes back in I think there will be a change in the half-forward line because Mikey Geaney might hold his place the way he is playing.

Midfield was a worry the last day. After 20 minutes Galway had 65% possession and kicked ten wides. If we were playing  Dublin, Mayo or Donegal, they’d have us beaten out the gate.

We were also a bit sluggish under they breaking ball, but that could  have to do with the feeling we were going to win the game anyway. When you’re just that little bit off the pace it can show up in those areas.

There’s lots of guys that have been playing reasonably well, but I think they have more in them for Mayo. There’s definitely another gear in us.

Looking forward to this weekend’s quarter finals, there’s a lot of people talking about Monaghan’s solid defence, but for a side that is so defensive they allowed Kildare a lot of chances. I just can’t see Monaghan having the personnel to handle Dublin.

I can’t see Armagh beating Donegal either. Yes, Jamie Clark is a fantastic player, but the way football is going now, they’ll just double mark him and there’s on better team to bring the shackles down than Donegal.

Dublin look like they have improved on last year, but in all honesty we just don’t know because they have not been really tested yet. I said before that the real stuff starts in the quarters.

Realistically it is the semi-finals which will be the real test for the only sides – bar Cork – who stood a chance of winning it in the first place; Dublin, Donegal, Kerry and Mayo.

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