To sweep or not to sweep. It’s a question Peter Keane may be mulling over as the Kerry manager formulates a strategy for taking down Dublin in the All-Ireland final. Paul Murphy performed the role in the semi-final win over Tyrone while Aidan O’Mahony, his Rathmore club mate, had a spell there in 2016 when Dublin narrowly beat Kerry.
Three years on, as Dublin strive for history, O’Mahony acknowledged that his own role did help prevent the Dubs from scoring a goal that day.
But he said the reality is that if Kerry are serious about beating Dublin on Sunday week, they will have to go toe-to-toe with them and rely on their own ability to rack up a match-winning score.
“I don’t think they’ll play a sweeper, I don’t think they can,” said Paddy Power GAA ambassador O’Mahony. If you are playing a sweeper then you are thinking, ‘What Dublin player do I leave free?’ There aren’t too many you’d be happy to. No doubt Jim Gavin would try to leave James McCarthy or Jack McCaffrey free, and they are going to hurt you.
“You need to go man-for-man and I think Kerry have the legs to go man-for-man and go after them. They can’t just go out and say, ‘Right, how do we contain Dublin?’ That won’t win it for them. Kerry need to go and play their own game, let’s go hammer and tongs at them. That’s the mentality they have to go in with.”
Asked if he’s worried about big gaps opening up again in Kerry’s defence, O’Mahony shook his head. “That’s always going to happen in games,” he said.
Any time you play Dublin, even if you have a sweeper, and I played as a sweeper myself against Dublin, you are going to find yourself one-v-one inside.
“They play to such a system that they are always in the scoring zone, in the D. Bernard Brogan made a career out of it and he was so good at it, any time he won the ball he was always just on the D.
“These guys make those hard runs for Dublin and since Jim Gavin took over, they’ve always put themselves in that position, so you have to man mark and I think Kerry will go man-for-man as well.”
O’Mahony stated earlier this month that David Gough, a Meath man living and working in Dublin, shouldn’t referee the final.
Speaking yesterday, O’Mahony blamed the media for blowing his comments out of proportion and said he has “no problem” with Gough taking charge.
“Is there pressure on him? I doubt it, no. There’s always going to be pressure going into an All-Ireland final. This is probably the biggest game there’s been since the Offaly-Kerry game and I suppose the funny thing about it is, instead of Kerry going for the five-in-a-row, they’re trying to stop the five-in-a-row.”
Former Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice made similar comments regarding Gough but O’Mahony maintained the pair didn’t act in league.
“Look, we weren’t out there trying to do a media witch hunt to put pressure on him,” said O’Mahony. “It was just me being asked a question, I answered it and I think Éamonn Fitzmaurice gave his opinion as well.”
O’Mahony was also asked about his Twitter criticism of Sean Cavanagh following the ex-Tyrone captain’s Sunday Game comments about Mickey Harte. Cavanagh suggested after Tyrone’s semi-final defeat to Kerry that it was time for Harte to step down, prompting O’Mahony to tweet that “this guy amazes me with his analysis”.
O’Mahony said of Cavanagh’s punditry: “I can remember he made a comment about the Kerry crowd being patronising of Tyrone and clapping them onto the bus (after the 2012 qualifier in Killarney). I remember that day, all that was in the minds of the Kerry crowd was Mickey Harte; he’d gone through so much grief at that time that there was so much respect for him.
“Then his analysis then of the Tyrone-Kerry game, and going on about Mickey Harte — considering he’s a guy that Mickey Harte probably made, and I have no problem saying that, same with me and Jack O’Connor and Páidí Ó Sé who brought me in first; you look back at those guys and I’d never cut the legs off them because they made me who I am today. They gave me the jersey to put on my back and they made me who I am.
“I have massive respect for Mickey Harte and I just think for a player to cut the legs off him so easily — I saw Owen Mulligan came out against it as well — I just think it was a bit of a cheap shot.”