Barry O’Shea: Kerry Selectors Have A Strong Panel They Can Trust

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Barry O'Shea

Barry O’Shea.

Our football columnist, Barry O’Shea, says Kerry has built an impressive squad of players over the last year,  which is something that will be vital later in the year…

MAYBE some people expected a bit too much from Tipperary.

They’re building a young side and Kerry are All-Ireland champions who have been around the block.

The game went along the lines I thought it would; Tipperary put up a battle for the first half, but once Kerry came back from the early deficit and went ahead, the game was never really in danger.

Continued below…

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Jonathan Lyne, takes a challenge, from Tipperary's, Robbie Kiely. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Jonathan Lyne takes a challenge from Tipperary’s Robbie Kiely. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Kerry showed their experience, keeping Tipp at the end of the jab while in the second half they just saw the game out until the finish, without being too spectacular.

Seven of last year’s team that started the All-Ireland final were missing, so that gave a lot of guys who , while maybe not new to the team, but were looking to nail down a place.

I thought Jonathan Lyne was impressive at right half back, also, Bryan Sheehan in midfield – who was put on the edge of the panel last year because of injury – showed he was still up for it.

The performance of these players has created a bit of a selection headache for Eamonn Fitzmaurice; David Moran and Paul Murphy, two men who won All-Stars last year, will be chomping at the bit to get back into the side.

The selectors always say they pick the team on form so the next three weeks of training will dictate what form they’re in. It’s true that in a few positions, who starts the Munster Final will come down to who’s producing the goods in training.

With the full forward line, looking at the way they’ve finished on Sunday – James O’Donoghue, Kieran Donaghy and Paul Geaney – I think management showed their hand a little and gave us an indication of who they will start in the Munster Final.

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Barry John Keane, get's on the ball against Tipperary. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Barry John Keane gets on the ball against Tipperary. Photo by Dermot Crean.

If Barry John doesn’t start he definitely put himself in line to come on. He played very well and was efficient with the chances he got. But look, it’s not all about starting any more.

In my time, if you didn’t start it was an awful downer and a huge hit to a fella.

Nowadays, teams can bring on six subs who now have a huge impact on games, no more so than Barry John, who performed very well off the bench last year for Kerry.

Just because a guy doesn’t start, doesn’t mean he won’t have a huge bearing on how a game is decided.

A lot of things can change in a year, people were saying this time 12 months ago the panel wasn’t strong enough.

The progression through last season showed that selectors have a lot of players they can now trust.

You look at the amount of players used in the replayed Mayo game last year, management almost used every player on the panal that day and they all made a contribution to the result.

That’s a great sign of a squad – that you’re able to go all the way down to number 26 and still have confidence to bring a guy in and do a job for you.

We’ll need that as the year goes on. If the squad is evolving and players are fighting for places that’s a good thing. The management have obviously made it known that if a player is performing they’ll get their chance, which gives every player a chance to develop.

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