Barry O’Shea: Kerry’s Quality Could Make The Difference

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barry_oshea_1Barry O’Shea says there are many ifs, buts and maybes about Saturday’s Kerry V Mayo clash, but the Kingdom’s quality up front could prevail…

ONE of the major talking points coming out of Croke Park last Sunday was what happened to our extra man?

I have a feeling the players didn’t do what they were told at half-time. There was no way Eamonn Fitzmaurice sent them out on the pitch the second half and do what they did. He’s far too shrewd for that.

At half-time Kerry were leading and had Mayo on the back foot. I very much doubt it was the plan to funnel players back and let Mayo dictate play.

Kerry had to put pressure on Mayo because we had the extra body. The extra man was taken out of the game because we allowed Mayo to run at us. If you have three or four guys chasing you down it makes it very difficult to move the ball to the free man.

Mayo had nothing to lose as well – they were a man down and also down on the scoreboard. They have good players so they just threw caution to wind and it suited them.

I said it at half-time that after the sending off, referee David Coldrick would attempt to even it up. Their were numerous occasions in the second half where Kerry players were fouled inside scoring range and didn’t get a free. Donnchadh Walsh in particular could have had at least three frees.

When momentum is going against you a free can settle the side, all these things make a big difference.

Mayo outnumbered us in the stands so Croke Park was really rocking when they had their big spell, but Kerry shown guts to hang in there and wait. You need a  bit of luck I suppose, but they got the scores to avoid defeat which looked a real possibility with only a few minutes remaining.

The difference Donaghy made was obviously crucial. We have been waiting for a ball like that into Donaghy for O’Donoghue’s goal for the last few years. David Moran hit caught the ball perfectly, it wasn’t just a punt into the clouds where the backs had time to deal with it.

The ball was floated in at a right trajectory for him and as soon as Donaghy caught the ball it was as good as a goal.

There is a lot to be learned from the drawn game, but the replay will probably be a completely different game. I don’t think Mayo will come out the same way they did on Sunday, I’d expect them to adopt a more running game.

We had sweepers back last week that hoovered up kick passes. If Mayo run, they may take that out of the game. On the other side of that, is it possible to keep that level of intensity up for 70 minutes?

One of the questions on everyone’s lips all week is whether Fitzmaurce will start Donaghy? If he plays midfield, although he would be well able for it, I’m not sure if he would last the game and if we put him in full-forward we could fall into the trap of pumping high balls into all day. A team cops onto that after a few balls in.

The choice of venue has been another talking point. From a supporters point of you Limerick is closer, but parking will be a nightmare and there is already a few lads complaining that there is only two pubs close to the ground!

For the players, it is a smaller pitch which will suit Mayo who are a bit more physical than us at the moment.

Last week I gave a tentative nod to Kerry, my feeling now is the same, but there are so many, ifs, buts and maybes about this game. It will come down to Kerry’s unforced errors and those small little things in the game. If Kerry can tidy up those mistake we will still score, but not heap pressure on ourselves.

In the first half last week, Kerry scored nine points with eight different scorers. They could score even when Mayo were playing ultra defensive. The longer we have the ball in our hands the better it will be.

Kerry have the quality that can make the difference.

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