The ball in Kerry’s court, says McEniff

THE contrasting nature of the Kerry and Tyrone victories in the weekend Bank of Ireland championship quarter-finals in Croke Park means Paídí Ó Se’s team will have an advantage against the Ulster champions in three weeks.

That's the view of Donegal manager Brian McEniff, who expressed delight that his own team is still in the championship but disappointment that their replay with Galway next Sunday evening has been fixed for Castlebar.

"Obviously it doesn't help Tyrone that they beat Fermanagh with such ease, whereas Kerry were given a good test by Roscommon," he said.

"The big thing about Tyrone this year is by playing Cormac McAnallen at full-back, they have a strong physical presence in front of goal. And, with Kevin Hughes linking up so well with Sean Kavanagh, they have aerial power at midfield.

"They also have a very tightly-knit defensive unit and their half-forwards are covering back the whole time to help out. Their movement of the ball is very good. Right now, Tyrone are looking very good," he said.

McEniff feels that there is scope for further improvement in the Kerry team overall. "They had only two games in Munster and they weren't pushed that hard in either of them.

"Roscommon had played four qualifier games before the quarter-final, so they were well prepared. Kerry's forwards might present a big threat, but they could have a difficulty with their defence. They could easily have conceded five goals on Monday.

"Darragh Ó Sé is an inspirational player for them. When Darragh plays well, Kerry play well, but they can't keep depending on him the whole time. Tyrone have more options. They could easily bring McAnallen out and play either Collie Holmes or Chris Lawn at full-back. At the same time, Kerry are Kerry and they have that great tradition," he said.

Meanwhile, McEniff says that he regards Castlebar as a home pitch for Galway. "I am disappointed that our replay has been fixed for there.

"We respect the decision, but that doesn't say we agree with it. It's 80 miles from where I live in Bundoran and we have players 90 miles away at the other end of the peninsula.

"It's very unfair on our supporters. With the weather so good you are going to have a lot of holiday traffic and, with the match at 5.30pm, you could have a major traffic jam going through my own town. It's fair to say that it would be quicker for many people to get to Dublin. I can't see why they couldn't have played it in Croke Park with the hurling game," he says.

He understands why people would hold the view that Donegal won't get as good a chance of winning the next day. "The element of surprise is gone. Looking at the video yesterday, it's clear we could have lost. Galway had chances to put us away.

"But we started training later than most teams. The game will bring Galway on a lot, but, right now I feel we're fresher," he said.

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