Kerry quietly descend on Croke Park
“They have a lot of pace throughout the team. Obviously Jack McCaffrey’s pace is phenomenal but it is also the pace that they are moving the ball at”
Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice with his team: “Once we are winning the games you will take these bit of fade outs.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Egress Kerry from the long grass. It has been crowded among the weeds this summer.
All that is really known about the preparation of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s team is what we’ve seen on the field of play.
The rest is just snippets. Rumours of strains, a lack of hype. Dublin are the same. Dampening it all down.
It leaves the simple presumption that form and youth will topple experience. That this ageing Kerry team who faded so noticeably in the second half against Cork and Cavan will be decimated by the super conditioned Dublin flyers.
“If you are looking at it from the outside, of course, we seem to be playing for the first half,” agreed Fitzmaurice. “We seem to fade out of games in the second half, we are not putting teams away so of course there is going to be questions marks over us.
“We are happy enough where we are at and we are looking forward to the game.”
You imagine they must love this opportunity; a favoured Dublin in Croke Park in September. Nothing would make the Kerry populace happier than avenging that chilling defeat of 2011.
“If there is any bit of a switch off against Dublin, be it in the first five minutes or in the second half, you are going to be severely punished so you have to concentrate for the whole game, make sure that we stick to the plan and not go conservative or defensive as we possibly have done in some of the games.
“I said it before, it is a results business and once we are winning the games you will take these bit of fade outs but against Dublin, if you take the foot of the gas at all, especially mentally, you will be severely punished.”
One theory whispered from the higher echelons of the Kingdom is the “fade outs” are the pay out of a calculated gamble; that Kerry were immersed in heavy training to ensure peak condition of ageing limbs at this very moment.
The 2011 All-Ireland final is mentioned. Fitzmaurice neatly side steps it. The age profile of his team is also brought up, and how it might motivate the likes of Paul Galvin, Tomás Ó Sé and even Colm Cooper.
“That is a personal thing. It possibly is for some of the older lads, you just hope that if you are in that situation, you are in the mind-set of enjoying it because some of those older lads they have been some of the best players that ever played the game, never mind played for Kerry.
“You would really hope that they are looking forward to going up to a full house in Croke Park and playing there. This is what it is all about, it is not about playing in an All-Ireland quarter-final in a half-empty stadium, with a flat atmosphere. This is the kind of thing that gets those fellas juices flowing. You would be hopeful it would play out there.”
Tracked by Galvin
There is a suggestion that Jack McCaffrey would be tracked by Galvin on Sunday. And vice versa. Road Runner against Wile E. Coyote.
In theory they should be marking each other but their roles cannot be confined to mere wing back or half forward. The wonder is how much does Dublin’s pace influence Fitzmaurice’s match-ups. “They have a lot of pace throughout the team. Obviously Jack McCaffrey’s pace is phenomenal but it is also the pace that they are moving the ball at.
“They have pace everywhere. Of course it will be a big consideration for us and it is something that we will be thinking about.”