Ó Sé does not rule out captaincy putting added pressure on White
Kingdom great says appointment of Conor Lane as referee could play into Dublin’s hands
Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey and Kerry’s Gavin White during the drawn All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
When Dr Crokes player Micheal Burns was briefly handed the Kerry captaincy for last year’s Allianz league game against Galway he buckled under the pressure.
“It was my worst game in the league because I was thinking about it so much,” Burns, an All-Ireland minor winner in 2014, later admitted.
He suggested that Kerry should ultimately ditch the tradition of allowing the county champions – in this case Dr Crokes – to choose the captain and allow the Kerry manager to do so. Nobody listened to Burns, however, and his Crokes club-mate Gavin White, a minor medallist himself in 2015, will captain the seniors again for Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay.
That is if he starts, of course, because the drawn game was one of his poorer and after earning an All-Star nomination last year there is a school of thought that the armband may be weighing heavily on him too.
Asked if the captaincy has placed needless pressure on White, and by extension on Kerry’s All-Ireland chances, Kingdom great Marc Ó Sé didn’t rule it out.
“I think so, possibly,” said Ó Sé. “It depends on the character of the man. It’s a huge debate down in Kerry for years. In 2003, Kilcummin won the county championship and Mike McCarthy, one of the best players I played with in the Kerry full-back line, he was the captain as a result. But he never opened his mouth in the dressing-room. He was just quiet.
“He was just a quiet man; he did his talking on the field. It was the likes of Darragh [Ó Sé] and Seamus Moynihan who were doing all the talking.”
Ó Sé reckons there could be an alternative reason that White didn’t reach his potential during the 1-16 apiece stalemate last Sunday week and was the second player replaced; his positioning.
“He is out of his comfort zone; he is playing wing-forward,” said Ó Sé. “He did very well against Mayo at wing-forward but he is a defender. So I think we are possibly being a bit unfair on him.”
In a move that could potentially free up White to play his best football Ó Sé has suggested that Kerry could put Stephen O’Brien on Jack McCaffrey – keeping the Dublin half-back honest and focused on his defensive duties first and foremost – move Brian Ó Beaglaoich to attack, and allow White to return to wing-back.
“I suppose it tells you everything you need to know about Jack McCaffrey that we are actually putting a defender [White] on him,” said Ó Sé, a five-time All-Ireland winning corner-back.
“Maybe we need to put a forward on him, put him on the back foot, put him into an area he doesn’t want to play. Stephen O’Brien, no better man. It will be interesting to see how it works out at the start of the game. I think that will have a huge bearing on the game.”
Ó Sé has also predicted that the appointment of Conor Lane as referee could have a bearing on the game and play into Dublin’s hands, agreeing that the Cork man’s style is to let things go.
“If he does it will probably stand to Dublin in a way because they’re a more physical team, big strong men. If he does let a little bit more go it will probably play into Dublin’s barrow a bit.”
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