Kerry’s experience can give them the edge over Cork in Killarney
JOHN O’KEEFFE: ANALYSIS:
Colm Cooper can cause problems for Cork as he be pulls the strings for Kerry from his centre-forward position
The first thing to say about the Kerry team announced during the week is that it’s no dummy. I hope not anyway, because it’s not in our DNA to go about business that way, especially not for a Munster football final.
That’s not saying the dropping of Kieran Donaghy hasn’t baffled some, including myself. It was a bit of a bombshell, although not quite on the scale of what happened to Brian O’Driscoll, and his de-selection Down Under.
Donaghy will still play some role off the bench, given it is a 20-man game now more than ever, and when he does come in will help keep the Cork defenders on their toes.
What made it more surprising was the fact there was no indication of it. With Kerry now training behind closed doors, one of the differences under Eamonn Fitzmaurice, people weren’t sitting on the practice matches, the A v B’s, so no one had any idea Darran O’Sullivan was starting in the inside forward line inside of Donaghy. Still it’s commendable that Fitzmaurice is clearly showing no favouritism here, but simply selecting players based on form at training, which is the way it has to be.
While it is a tactical decision, I also think both Fitzmaurice and Conor Counihan realised that things had to be shaken up a little, especially after the lesson they got last year from Donegal.
Both teams had got a little too predictable, and from the Kerry perspective that was firing in the high ball to Donaghy, which very often was not successful. Defenders these days actually find that easy to handle, especially big men like Eoin Cadogan and Michael Shields.
Starting with Darran O’Sullivan, Declan O’Sullivan and James O’Donoghue opens up the whole new possibility of a different type of ball played into the Kerry forwards.
These three players interlink very well, and with Colm “Gooch” Cooper pulling the strings, make for a more formidable outfit. They have a lot more pace, and are a lot more difficult to defend against. We see that more and more these days, that forwards need pace, need to be able to support each other, and these three forwards are certainly capable of that.
I’m still a bit surprised that Counihan has gone with so many new faces again this time, assuming the team is unchanged from the semi-final win over Clare. It’s a pretty drastic call to leave out players such as Aidan Walsh, Ciarán Sheehan and Donncha O’Connor, although Counihan knows he needed to try something different after what Donegal did to them last summer.
So he’s introduced a rake of young, although very skilful players, but has he overdone it? There’s a new goalkeeper in Ken O’Halloran, new defenders Damien Cahalane, James Loughrey, and Tomás Clancy, plus forwards John O’Rourke and Brian Hurley – and that’s certainly shaking things up. I can only assume it’s not just a fitness issue with Walsh and Sheehan: Walsh maybe hasn’t been as accurate with his kick-passing and Sheehan is only returning from injury, but these are serious forwards nonetheless.