Careless. That’s the word I was struggling for in the aftermath of Kerry’s victory yesterday. That’s the word I was trying to think of to sum up the frustrating bits and the sloppy side of Kerry again in an All-Ireland quarter final.
It’s as good a word as any to describe what I believed was an unsatisfactory overall display from Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s side, and have no doubt — any criticisms in this column will be nothing to the straight talking the manager will do at training in Killarney tomorrow night.
Video reviews must call out obvious examples of poor play and bad decision-making. The Kerry manager is a man of precision on these things, and there’s plenty of moments to study and scrutinise from their defeat of Galway.
And Éamonn will know better than anyone that there’s plenty to work on at both ends of the field for the semi-final.
The chemistry isn’t quite right in the Kerry attack at the moment.
For starters, they need more in terms of assists from the half-forward line.
One could forgive James O’Donoghue for an off-day because he was carrying a knock into the game that certainly impaired his preparation.
After two really impressive displays against Clare and Cork, he was off it yesterday. He was blocked down twice which for a player with two strong feet, is indicative that something isn’t right. However, he wasn’t the only Kerry starting attacker a little off colour. The attacking unit looks so settled on paper, and that’s an issue right there. It cannot be.
Donnchadh Walsh was taken off at half time in the Munster final, Mikey Geaney only lasted four minutes longer yesterday. Kieran Donaghy is in remarkable form, but he isn’t going to last 70 minutes. Not only are there questions up front for Kerry, there are openings there in my opinion. That’s why I was so interested in Jack Savage and Stephen O’Brien, and don’t forget Darran O’Sullivan is still waiting in the wings.
By my reckoning, that’s nine goal chances Kerry have now given up in their last two games.
Are there question marks too over the full-back line? Yes. Fionn Fitzgerald and Shane Enright had uncomfortable afternoons and it took Peter Crowley a bit to pin down Michael Daly.
It’s an interesting issue why Kerry seem to underperform in All-Ireland quarter-finals.
I discussed on these pages already the shift in training emphasis after the Munster final, that gamble Éamonn is prepared to take, but even with the best of intentions from the players, it is difficult at times to be perfectly tuned in when the atmosphere is non-existent and you get the go-ahead goal provided by Kieran Donaghy yesterday.
If that leads to sloppiness and carelessness, it’s understandable — but not acceptable. The management has three weeks now to iron out these issues.
What Stephen Rochford would do for such a spell of recovery for his Mayo players.
They go back to the trenches again next Monday. Already they’ve played six championship games this summer. If Kerry played that, they’d have the All-Ireland won.
The beguiling narrative is to marvel at Mayo’s resilience once again, how they refused to yield in the face of Roscommon’s intensity yesterday.
But the excitement hides the statistics — 56 turnovers in the game either means manic aggressiveness in the tackle (which there was) or a lack of quality in possession.
I think there was as much of the latter as the former. If Mayo is a cat with nine lives, they’ve used up seven or eight now. How much is left in the tank is a moot point now for Mayo. Which is why Kevin McStay was not necessarily reverting to manager speak when he mentioned how much momentum yesterday’s draw gives his Roscommon project.
I really think another smart performance next Monday gives them an excellent chance of progressing to a semi-final. I’d suggest too that they will adopt a different approach to dealing with Lee Keegan, who finished again with 1-3 yesterday. The Enda Smith idea didn’t work.
Keegan is one of the few ‘defenders’ in the game who merits a particular man-marker, a ‘forward’ who will sacrifice his own instincts and become a seventh defender.
Video reviewsmust call out obvious examples of poor play