By Peter McNamara
Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice said Kerry’s defending lacked “authority and confidence” as Cork tore their rearguard to pieces at times in the first half of their Allianz NFL Division 1 meeting today.
Kerry were excellent defensively last Sunday against Dublin, with Jack Sherwood producing a man-of-the-match performance.
Yet, it was ironic, and indicative of the struggles Kerry had that Sherwood was replaced by Peter Crowley 19 minutes into the opening period on this occasion.
By then, however, Cork had registered three goals – the first from Colm O’Neill and the second and third from John O’Rourke.
Worryingly for Fitzmaurice and co, Cork orchestrated more openings throughout the initial 35-plus minutes as Kerry were, as their boss put it, “at sixes and sevens”.
Yet, the Finuge clubman could not put his finger on why such a malfunctioning Kerry defence took to the field on Leeside.
“After last week, you’re looking up after beating a good Dublin side,” Fitzmaurice mused. “Today, then, we had this poor performance and defeat.
“‘Where did that performance come from?’ That’s the million dollar question. We don’t know.
“We’re just after the game here now so we’ll have to think about it. We didn’t see it coming.
“We trained very well during the week and tried to build on last week.
“We had a light session on Friday night fellas were fresh and seemed to be tuned in for the game.
“We just weren’t at it today.
“We didn’t seem to have authority or confidence in ourselves back there in defence.
“When we conceded such an early goal it seemed to knock the stuffing out of us.
“Once we regained our composure after that though I don’t think Cork had any goal chances in the second half.”
Kerry trailed by four points at half-time however Fitzmaurice still believed the visitors to Páirc Uí Rinn were in a decent position going into the second period.
“To be fair, I thought we had pulled ourselves back into the game until that row happened in front of the Cork goal and that kind of took the momentum away from us then again.
“I thought, at half-time, that we were in a decent position and we were looking for a big second half performance.
“But it was Cork that kicked-on and we didn’t,” Fitzmaurice said.
Cork rampaged through Kerry’s back lines far too easily at times, particularly in the opening quarter.
And that element of their display frustrated Fitzmaurice greatly.
“We wouldn’t have been too happy with how open we were in the first-half.
“After what we discussed during the week we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.
“That was disappointing,” he opined.
Anthony Maher was substituted at the interval and Fitzmaurice reported the midfielder was withdrawn for precautionary reasons after getting a knock while the Kerry supremo was also conscious of the fact Paul Murphy received a black card for the second week on the spin.
“Anthony got a knock in the head and we were worried at half-time about the issue of concussion so we took him off.
“It was probably a collision of heads but I wasn’t talking to him properly yet.
“Paul, obviously, has to be careful, too.
“I suppose, the one thing about the black card is that it must be hard at times for the referees to know if something is deliberate or accidental.
“I’d have to see it again and the referee was a lot closer to it than I was but I’m not sure if it was deliberate.
“The thing is, you can’t get yourself into a position where it looks like you are pulling a fella down deliberately.
“From that point of view, I don’t know if we can have any complaints.
“The decision was made and there is no point in crying about it now.
“Paul and all of our defenders will have to be careful though,” he added.