Stick or twist? O’Mahony would gamble on Walsh start in replay

Stick or twist? O’Mahony would gamble on Walsh start in replay
Former Kerry footballer Aidan O’Mahony with Conn McCluskey (9) and Sibha Bhoja (10) at yesterday’s launch of National Fitness Day, which will take place on September 26. Picture: Inpho/Morgan Treacy.

Kerry great Aidan O’Mahony has admitted he’d start towering Tommy Walsh in the All-Ireland final replay but reckons boss Peter Keane will hold him in reserve once again.

Both Keane and Dublin manager Jim Gavin have big personnel decisions to make ahead of Saturday week’s return to Croke Park.

Powerful Walsh came on for Kerry in the 53rd minute of the drawn final and played for around 25 minutes, scoring a point, setting up Killian Spillane’s goal and playing in Sean O’Shea for a point.

It was still only Walsh’s fourth appearance of the summer, all as a substitute, and while five-time winner O’Mahony would love to see the big forward from the start on September 14, he reckons it won’t happen.

“If you start Tommy, you are kind of saying, ‘Right, 50 minutes into the game, what’s the plan B then?’” said O’Mahony.

“The last day, he came in and it was a pivotal thing because everything was played through him.

If you take that away from Kerry, what’s your next move then? If you need ball to be won inside and Tommy Walsh is starting, you get 45 or 50 minutes out of him but then you are saying, what’s the plan B now? Have you shown your cards?

“For me, would I start him? Yes. But for Peter, I’m not so sure he will, I think he’ll hold him in reserve again. I think Tommy would be happy with that as well, because he’splaying a massive role.”

Kevin McManamon scored decisive goals as a sub against Kerry in Dublin’s 2011 final and the 2013 semi-final wins while Alan Brogan’s point after coming on in the 2015 final defeat of Kerry was crucial in a low scoring game.

O’Mahony feels Walsh is capable of playing that super sub role for Kerry in the replay.

“It’s like the Kevin McManamon thing, maybe for what Tommy is doing at the moment maybe he is that impact sub and he’s better coming off the bench but, for me, the next day I do think both teams are going to put in something different,” said the Rathmore man.

“Killian Spillane came in and he had a big game as well so there’s plenty of options there and I think Kerry’s subs made a bigger impact the last day.

"Jack Sherwood came in and played very well and I think for players - and I know from my own time playing - when you play well in a game like that, you want to start the next time.”

Dublin have arguably more personnel decisions to make with question marks over who will make both their team and their 26.

Multiple All-Ireland winners Eoghan O’Gara, Rory O’Carroll, Eric Lowndes and Bernard Brogan didn’t even make the match-day panel last Sunday.

“I think you’ll see Bernard Brogan back on the panel,” predicted O’Mahony.

For years, he’s been the player they’ve depended on. Who can say there’s not 10 minutes in him? For a guy who came back from a cruciate injury after six months, that takes a lot of work and effort and commitment.

“He’s definitely a player you could use for 10 minutes. Plus, he brings that experience to the panel. He is a good guy to have around, he’s been there for years, he’s won Player of the Year and stuff.

"I could be totally wrong, he mightn’t be performing in training, but I just think the next day they need some kind of curve-ball like that.”

O’Mahony, who successfully shackled Donegal’s Michael Murphy in Kerry’s 2014 final win, reckons Jonny Cooper will be detailed to mark David Clifford again, despite struggling badly on the Kerry phenom last weekend and getting his marching orders.

“I would think if I was a corner back or a full-back, I would want to go back on that player to make amends,” said O’Mahony.

"He’s been one of Dublin’s best man-markers for years. He hasn’t lost his pace overnight and maybe he just needs a bit of game time."

Ireland Active will host the second Docklands Fitfest on National Fitness Day, September 26, as part of Dublin City Council’s Dublin Sportfest. National Fitness Day is supported by Sport Ireland, Healthy Ireland and the European Commission, with a common goal of promoting the benefits of physical activity. In celebration of National Fitness Day, Fitbit will be giving away free Fitbit devices in participating leisure centres, workplaces and schools across the country.

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