Five Things Kerry Have To Focus On For The League

Posted by

INEC Gathering insert

On the eve of the opening weekend of the Allianz National Football League, Gavin O’Connor looks at five key areas Kerry need to concentrate on before the summer…

1. Getting Off To A Good Start

In Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s previous two seasons presiding over Kerry in the league, he has failed to win in the opening three games. This has left the side scrapping to stay up for the remainder of the campaign with the doom-mongers out in force. Hardly the best preparation.

It doesn’t look like it will be any easier this year either, with announcement that 12 players from last year’s panel will miss the opening round match against Mayo this Sunday in Killarney.

Kerry’s record in the league home and away against Mayo is also a bit sketchy. A bit of good news is that Mayo are without Alan Dillon and All-Star Cillian O’Connor (banned because of his late sending off in Limerick last year).

Conditions are difficult again for Fitzmaurice, but he will be putting extra emphasis on correcting this as Kerry manager.

Kerry will be without James O'Donoghue for the entire league campaign because of a shoulder injury. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Kerry will be without James O’Donoghue for the entire league campaign because of a shoulder injury. Photo by Dermot Crean.

 

blasket insert new

2. Finding A Place For Tommy Walsh

One of the traits of Fitzmaurice’s managerial style is his ability to keep people guessing.  Speaking to the media last week about where to play Tommy Walsh, he pointed to every outfield position except the corner and wing back spots. So, no clues there.

When Tommy left Kerry he was one of the most accurate corner forwards in the game. Five years holding an oval ball must have surely taken its toll on his ability to shoot.

On the flip-side, the running game he picked up down under and physical fitness would surpass anything that is coached in Ireland. Midfield feels like his most natural position at the moment, but just like his father Sean we could see him at full-back as much as full-forward.

Tommy Walsh, getting to grips with the game in his return match with Kerins O'Rahilly's. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Tommy Walsh, getting to grips with the game in his return match with Kerins O’Rahilly’s last week. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

3. Bringing The Gooch Back Up To Speed

Just over 11 months ago the unthinkable happened for Kerry supporter – Colm Cooper was ruled out for the entire for the year. What transpired was one of the most remarkable seasons ever for Kerry. A tinge of regret was that it was completed without our talisman.

In his last full season, the Gooch excelled in the number 11 shirt, a position where his game intelligence and skill were utilsed more than his physical ability.

All going right, you’d expect him to fit back in there, but in his 30s now, is there a worry a year on the sidelines may have chipped a bit off his genius?

David Moran and Colm Cooper cerebrate in thof the aftermath of last year's All-Ireland final. Photo by Dermot Crean.

David Moran and Colm Cooper cerebrate after last year’s All-Ireland final. Photo by Dermot Crean.

4. Finding The Next Paul Murphy

Paul Murphy was no more than a fringe player when he made his bow in the McGrath Cup last year. The Rathmore man was not expected to start the first championship game, never mind win the man of the match award in the All-Ireland.

If there is going to be a breakthrough star in the side this year it will come in defence. The competition in the forward line is too fierce for someone to emerge you would feel.

Aidan O’Mahony and Marc O’Se are most likely looking at their final year with Kerry. Who replaces them could well be the next big thing in green and gold. Defenders in the running are, Pa Kilkenny, Jack Sherwood and Mark Griffin.

Stacks men Fearghal McNamara and Greg Horan could also get a shot.

Grasping the number 5 shirt Tomas O'Se vacated,  Paul Murphy had an incredible 2014. Photo by Dermot Crean.

Grasping the number 5 shirt Tomas O’Se vacated, Paul Murphy had an incredible 2014. Photo by Dermot Crean.

5. Adding another element to their game

Last year Kerry caught everyone by surprise. After the loss to Cork at home in the league, Kerry were fourth favourites with not many giving them much hope, inside or outside the county.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice was flexible in his approach to every game. Unlike any of the other semi-finalists, Kerry were a side without any clearly defined style.

Now, as the champions, the spotlight is being shone on how Fitzmaurice puts out his teams. Every Kerry game over the next year will be picked apart ad nauseam by all our rivals. It will be up to Fitz to pull out more surprises and keep them guessing.

• Kerry play Mayo in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday at 2pm.

Comments are closed.

image