Plenty for Kerry’s rivals to get excited about (not to mention the CCCC)

WE CAN only presume that those stout opponents of free speech, the Kerry senior football panel, will now append TV3 to their media blacklist following the analysts’ audacity to call it like it was in relation to Tomás O Sé yesterday.

There’s nothing for it now, but to transport the saccharine, newly-at-a-loose-end ITV pundits over here and fund them in the immediate (if not sooner) establishment of TV Free Ciarraí, Land of the Airbrush and Home of the Banal.

“Ah stop, boy, you didn’t see that at all – TV Free Ciarraí, because we know what’s best for you, Sunday after Sunday” is a touch wordy, we admit, but, with a bit of tightening-up some night after training by the squad’s media police, it could be re-worked as a catchy logo.

A week after missing everything, TV3 were determined yesterday to miss nothing, even to the point of presenter Matt Cooper promising a full review of the O Sé incidents on Twitter before half-time. It didn’t take 20:20 vision to spot the indiscretions, however, and quite how O Sé survived was a thing of mystery, if not exactly beauty.

However, signs of increasing preciousness and self-absorption among those who wear, and coach, the green and gold are the least worries a Kerry supporter might harbour this morning. July fears for Kerry’s well-being are as old as the Qualifiers system itself, and they have slipped the knot on more than one occasion, but yesterday’s display gives immense heart to any team with genuine designs on relieving them of their All-Ireland title.

Limerick, no more than Cork, have little relish anymore for the role of the Kingdom’s diagnosing physician, but the number of Kerry problems they revealed looks to extend well beyond the supply of available fixes.

From the moment Seamus Scanlon almost knotted himself up in desperate efforts to contain John Galvin’s run and point from the throw-in, the Kerry midfield area, apart from a brief flurry either side of half-time when Micheál Quirke flexed his muscles, was an ongoing disaster zone – all the more glaringly so when contrasted with the powerful forward thrusts of Mike McCarthy from centre-back.

There has been no significant infusion of new talent in the Kerry team. It may explain why Jack O’Connor took so long to remove Tom O’Sullivan yesterday, though there are no easy answers as to why he didn’t give Marc O Sé a shot at quelling the storm brewed up by Ger Collins.

Resources are severely stretched. It’s pick-and-mix now for Kerry. The likelihood that Tomás will spend some time cooling his ardour on the bench – pursuant, no doubt, to the by-now traditional bidding prayers for martyrdom led by keening greats of the past – adds to Kerry’s difficulties.

Loss of discipline was an emblem of 2008, and signs of a recurrence this season are far from comforting for Kerry followers.

On a day when Kieran Donaghy and Stephen Lucey grappled each other out of the game, Kerry were once again grateful to the other two marquee names in their attack – Declan O’Sullivan and Colm Cooper – for staving off what would have been a painful defeat.

As we have hinted above, none of this is of any consolation to Limerick. They came, they saw, they rattled, they stopped, they rattled again, and they went home in all-too-familiar regretful mode.

Those two points before half-time undermined their case dramatically, and the 15 minutes spent completely out of contention after the break left them with too great a margin to close. Plus if Kerry had to go through the second-half without Tomás O Sé, Limerick’s ceaseless rallying might have borne more fruit.

They won many admirers yesterday. But you can’t frame admirers and place them in a glass-case for your grandchildren to marvel at.


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