Barry O’Shea: Kerry Showed True Grit In Classic Encounter

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barry_oshea_1Our football columnist, Barry O’Shea, says Kerry showed great determination in Saturday’s clash with Mayo and the management deserve credit for their progress this year…

THERE were are a number of moments in the match where I thought Kerry are up for this – and it wasn’t when they got scores.

People might say about Johnny Buckley that he didn’t get enough possession or score, but I saw a side to his game which I haven’t seen before.

In the first half alone he had four man-to-man collisions – hard hits with his shoulder where he drove Mayo men back. I thought he laid down a marker for the whole team.

When I saw that happening I thought this team is different. They had grit in them and they had something that Kerry teams might have lacked in the past – a killer instinct that said we are not going to beaten today.

Over the two games it was a classic encounter which the Mayo players should get as much credit for as well.

David Moran was the best player out on the pitch.  If Darragh O’Se or Jack O’Shea put in a performance like that they would be writing songs about it.

It was totally different game from the first day.  The first game was very tactical, Mayo dropped Mikey Geaney’s man back into the full back line to double up on O’Donoghue, their half forwards came back and played very defensive.

On Saturday it was more of a toe to toe battle.  Fellas just went at it and it was part of the reason we conceded 3-13 because we didn’t set-up defensively.


Many people’s man of the match, David Moran, attempts to move past Mayo’s Barry Moran. Photo by Dermot Crean.

You could come up for reasons how those three goals went in – they were poor goals to give away – but that’s the way the game was. Against Donegal we wouldn’t want to let them get a seven point jump on us because they would probably pull everyone back and close out the game.

With the changes that were made at the start of the game, leaving Marc O’Se out and bringing Donaghy in you wouldn’t be surprised with anything the management team would do now.

Mayo played into our hands a bit with allowing Ger Cafferkey – who isn’t the best man with the ball over his head – to stay on Donaghy. It worked out brilliantly for us. I played full back so I know how hard it can be. If Donaghy is getting the right ball it’s almost impossible to stop because he’s so big.

We had a few breaks from the referee, but if you were to look at it over the course of two games I thought it was even enough. After Lee Keegan got the line in the first game, Kerry got very little change from the referee.

A lot of the Mayo analysts are giving out about the referee Cormac Reilly, but they are not looking at it over the entirety of the two games. In the second half of the first game I don’t think the referee was too kind to us and there wasn’t much said about it from a Kerry point of view, you just have to get on with it, that’s sport.

It was a very difficult game to referee, the ref ended up getting cramp! It was 100 miles an hour up and down the field I can see how mistakes could be made.

Of course the players deserve top class officiating, but I still think over the course of two games it’s hard to argue that Kerry didn’t deserve to come out on top. In the second half of extra time it wasn’t the ref’s fault that Mayo didn’t score.

The two games will bring on the team leaps and bounds and you can only take positives from it. Those big games are worth more than months of training. There’s one thing you can’t buy in football and that’s experience. You can talk about the game, you look at from the outside, but the only way to know is by being in the middle of it.

It will be a totally different kettle of fish for the final, Donegal are a different side than anything we have faced. You have to have faith in Eamonn Fitzmaurice. He’s got a fantastic management team behind him as well.

Kerry’s fitness levels showed in extra time where there were Kerry players bursting out to get to the ball and they brought intensity right to the very end of the game.

There’s a good buzz about this current team now. It would sort of remind you of 1975 or 1997. Kerry supporters bought into those teams because they were new – this year kind of has that vibe as well. It’s five years since Kerry have won an All-Ireland which is a bit of drought as far as we’re concerned!

The management team should take a large chunk of the plaudits, because at the end of the day, no one from Kerry thought we were going to get to an All-Ireland final this year. Even the most ardent supporters didn’t think we had an All-Ireland in us.

We’re in bonus territory now, but the funny thing about Kerry people is, if they don’t win it, the knives could be out again!

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