Barry O’Shea: Kerry v Galway Is Not A Foregone Conclusion

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barry_oshea_1YOU could class this game as a match up of two traditional powers. Galway, to their credit, always go out to play an attacking style of football and I expect Sunday to be no exception.

I have some great memories of playing Galway. In 1994 I picked up my minor All-Ireland medal against them. I won’t have to remind many that this was the last time a Kerry minor side collected a cup in Croke Park – an all-too-long a wait.

Padraig Joyce and Michael Donnellan lined out that day for Galway, two of the finest footballers the Tribesmen have ever produced.

In 1996, I was on the U21 team that defeated Galway in the semi-final of the championship on our way to back to back titles.

In 2000, I missed out on playing the All-Ireland final and its replay due to injury, but fortunately Seamus Moynihan plugged the gap at full-back in my absence.

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This is when the championship really kicks off – the knock-out. At the start of the year, realistically, only two or three teams can win it. There has been a lot of calls to change the format, but what would it do really?

We can’t go back to the way it was, with lads training all winter for possibly just one game.

If you look at the Champions League, it’s always a couple of sides who can actually win it, you might have one side who makes a surprise charge, but really there is no difference.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice announced the team to face Galway on Tuesday with one change, Mikey Geaney will be coming in for Stephen O’Brien who is injured.

Kerry played so well against Cork that it’s difficult to make changes. A lot of people might be surprised to see Mikey Geaney’s inclusion, but the management are seeing him more often than us – they know who is in form. I can see him being on Gareth Bradshaw’s side and taking a more defensive role.

Darran O’Sullivan might have been expected to come in over Mikey Geaney, but you get the sense Fitzmaurice might be holding him back to come on later in the game and exploit gaps in the Galway defence.

Fitzmaurice surprised us with some of the selections in the Munster Final, but they all worked. In that game Aidan O’Mahony played as a wing-back. I’d imagine this time around he will go up against Galway’s full-forward Paul Conroy, because he’s a big, strong, physical player that might suit him better.

We’ll see if that’s correct – my crystal ball may not be working as well as I think!

Galway conceded 4-12 against Tipp, if they allow the same holes to appear in their defence against us you’d expect an easy afternoon. Although looking back to 2008 game – when both sides played each other in a monsoon – Kerry were expected to win easily, but ended up getting a massive fright.

I think it will be an open game, probably the most attacking and best game out of all of the other quarter-finals. A lot of people might call the football tactically naive, but it’s what people want to see.

I think Kerry will continue to play like they did against Cork, which had a bit of a defensive element, but when they had the ball they used fantastic quick passing into James O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney who cleaned up.

Galway manager, Alan Mulholland was on the radio a few days ago saying they’re not going to change their game plan and it’s hard to see how they could, given they would have only had a couple of sessions to prepare after defeating Tipperary in Tullamore last Saturday.

Now, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Kerry will go out and win. Galway are like us, they love Croke Park and have always produced classy footballers – wing-forward Shane Walsh is a fantastic young talent in particular.

But I do think Kerry will win. They have more experienced players and are further down the line in the progression than Galway.

The best thing Kerry can do is work on the way they played against Cork and try and refine that even more for hopefully more challenges to come.

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