So what is the mood in Kerry after Sunday’s Munster SFC semi-final draw with Cork? Was it a bad day at the office or signs the tide is changing in the Rebels’ favour?
The answer is somewhere in the middle according to former All-Ireland winning defender Liam O’Flaherty who believes that much of the blame for Kerry’s flat performance in Killarney rests with Jack O’Connor and his management team.
The 1997 All-Ireland winner said: "Cork’s turn is coming slowly but surely. We were very lucky to get a draw in Killarney given the way the team was selected. I expect Kerry to give a much better account of themselves tomorrow but I think the momentum is with Cork down in Pairc Uí Chaoimh."
Last week’s team selection created a head-scratching pandemic in Kerry. Though corrections have been made for the replay, O’Flaherty is still amazed by the tactical own goals which almost sent the side spiralling into the qualifiers.
"Even before the ball was kicked Kerry were in trouble given how the team was selected. People who were qualified to play in positions weren’t used in those places – Aidan O’Mahony, a tried and tested centre back, was put out on the wing; Tommy Griffin who had never started a championship game at centre back was put there, Declan O’Sullivan, an out and out centre forward, began in the corner."
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Ballydonoghue man.
"I can’t understand why they didn’t start Darragh O Sé at midfield and to start a game without a recognised freetaker defies belief. Even the smallest club team wouldn’t do that."
O’Flaherty welcomes the formation for Saturday given that many of the aforementioned returned to their normal playing habitats.
"I am delighted to see Darragh back at midfield and having Tommy Griffin alongside him makes perfect sense, given how much football they have played together over the years. I think that Tomás O Sé’s game suffered as a result of Darragh not starting. He struggled in the first half to do things that would be normally bread and butter to him but after Darragh came on the focus returned and he came great in the last 20 minutes."
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