Kerry will need to be much more economical in attack if they are to truly challenge Dublin in the All-Ireland SFC final.
One particular statistic that may have grabbed Peter Keane’s eye on Sunday night was that Kerry converted just 12 out of 23 scoring opportunities in open play against Tyrone.
On the plus side, Keane and his management team will have been encouraged by the fact their players engineered 23 scoring chances in-play against a side as structured as Tyrone.
Yet, were Kerry to create the same number of opportunities in open play during the final they would probably need to convert at least 20 of them to give themselves a genuine chance of dethroning Jim Gavin’s outfit.
Of course, it is unlikely Dublin will allow Kerry to create 23 scoring chances anyway, but the fact remains the Kingdom will require greater efficiency in front of Stephen Cluxton’s goal on September 1.
At present, it seems as if Stephen O’Brien could miss the final due to picking up a black card last Sunday in the closing quarter.
Kerry, of course, will be doing everything in their power between now and the decider to ensure O’Brien is available to Keane.
O’Brien has performed immeasurably well for Kerry this summer and has always been a player of immense talent. His preference for direct running will be needed in spades against Dublin. He has been Kerry’s most proficient operator so far in the championship and were he to miss out, it would be extremely difficult to envisage Keane’s charges turning Dublin over.
In fact, even if O’Brien is cleared to play, his presence may not be enough to derail Dublin’s bid for five-in-a-row.
Nevertheless, how brilliant was O’Brien in the creation and execution of Kerry’s match-defining major against Tyrone?
Paul Geaney’s craft was evident in the way he released O’Brien, but the wing-forward’s finish was as clever as it was essential.
Another man that made a significant contribution to Kerry’s second-half cause in their clash with the northerners was Tommy Walsh.
Given there is a perceived weakness aerially in Dublin’s full-back line, would Keane and co be tempted to start the experienced powerhouse?
After all, would it really be a day for holding the trump cards back? If they are to compete with Dublin, Keane’s unit will need to throw absolutely everything they have at Gavin’s troops from the get-go to see where that takes them.
Even if Walsh was held in reserve, he represents a wonderful option for Keane.
His link-up play was a key feature of Kerry’s display when it really mattered in the second half and Walsh would give Dublin’s defensive sector a headache.
Keane may decide to keep Walsh on the bench at the start of the final but throwing caution to the wind might yield a brighter outlook for them.
Kerry’s attitude after half-time was superb last Sunday, as was illustrated afterwards by Mickey Harte.
“(Kerry) came out with a different attitude in the second half — that they were up for the challenge, up for the fight. As the game went on, that became very apparent,” Harte mused. “And I suppose when it got close, a point-for-point game, a goal was going to be major for any team and that’s the way it turned out. I just think that half time is a dangerous place — if you are going well, you don’t want half-time at all.
“We were going well up to half-time and that’s a time-out to be able to make adjustments with settled minds — that was half time at a bad time.
“This is a dangerous deal because the team behind is going to come out more energised about changing the script. It can be hard to get your team to… you try to talk the right language to get your team to win the second half.”
If Kerry bring that second-half drive to the opening quarter of the finale, Keane’s men will at least give themselves a foothold into the match.
However, if they are as flustered in the first-half on September 1 as they were against Tyrone, no interval mood swing will alter their destiny for the better because Dublin will be out the gate by then.
If O’Brien has been Kerry’s most accomplished performer this summer, Con O’Callaghan is equally effective for Dublin, albeit operating in a different role.
He looks every inch the Footballer of the Year in-waiting or, at least, close to certain to being shortlisted for the award provided he has even a relatively decent showing in the decider.
Cathal McShane tormented Jason Foley so the latter will hardly be tasked with shackling O’Callaghan in the final.
Maybe Tadhg Morley will be detailed to mark O’Callaghan. Yet, would Morley be more suited to a sweeper role for the Kingdom?
In fact, is there a case to be made that Keane implements a defensive party which includes two sweepers, each one situated, mainly, at the mid-points of the full-back-wing-backs and corner-backs-centre-back axes?
To some, pitching two sweepers might seem extreme, but the circumstances might require two.
Additionally, it might free up space in front of Kerry’s full-forward line allowing Paul Geaney and David Clifford to potentially flourish, provided Keane’s team can break at speed when earning turnovers – interestingly, Kerry had 18 turnovers to Tyrone’s 13.
Still, no matter what Kerry attempt tactically, it is unlikely to ruffle the champions.
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