Declan O’Sullivan wants Kerry to play the long game

Kerry must simplify their kickout strategy and go long from the tee against Dublin, says former Kingdom star Declan O’Sullivan.

Declan O’Sullivan wants Kerry to play the long game

Kerry must simplify their kickout strategy and go long from the tee against Dublin, says former Kingdom star Declan O’Sullivan.

The five-time All-Ireland winner wants Peter Keane to protect rookie goalkeeper Shane Ryan, suggesting Dublin will be primed to take advantage of any slip from the Rathmore number one.

“For me, Kerry have to face up to the fact that the ball is going to have to go out to the middle,” O’Sullivan said.

“I don’t think Shane Ryan is experienced enough with that type of pressure and that type of heat to be going short too often.

“It’s mano v mano, can we secure possession in the middle of the field? That’s why I’d have Tommy Walsh on the field, who can drift out there. And have Jack Sherwood who can go out there with Jack Barry and David Moran.

“All of a sudden you’re matching up with the Brian Fentons, Brian Howards, Michael Darraghs, James McCarthys.

We have to compete and we have to have that intensity around the ball. We have to get numbers and bodies around the ball and we have to live or die by it.

Speaking on the Renault Irish Examiner GAA Championship Podcast, O’Sullivan argues playing the ball out through the lines will invite risk and perhaps little reward.

“If we go short, even if we secure possession, Dublin have become so good at managing games, they’ll just drift back. It’ll be a long day if we have to run through 12 or 13 Dublin bodies all day.

“Especially early on Dublin will be primed to go after Shane Ryan, a rookie goalkeeper. They are going to put on a squeeze.

“If you can get it out early and safely, of course you can take that option. But Dublin won’t give you that option, especially early on, they are really going to hone in on that.

So to simplify everything for the goalkeeper, number one, and the team in general, I’d put it up to them, put the ball out there, and you need to win possession.

“You’re going long into certain zones, where you have practised to get the right people into. You’re not going to win every one but if you lose it at least your six backs are in position, from a shape point of view.

“Maybe you concede a point, but you’re not conceding goals. If you go short too often with that press, you’re conceding goals.

“You have to be there to try and win the game at the end. Dublin are fantastic but they aren’t robots, you have to build the pressure, be there if the opportunity presents itself at the end to win the game.

“You don’t want to throw the game away in the first 10 minutes.”

With that gameplan in mind, O’Sullivan wants Tommy Walsh to start Sunday’s final, and would also bring in Jack Barry and Jack Sherwood.

“I don’t like this whole idea that Jack Barry has Brian Fenton’s number. And I’d imagine if Brian Fenton has got some wind of this theory being out there, he’ll certainly be out to prove a point.

“But Peter Keane will look at the history and he’ll say Jack Barry is my man.

He has to play him. Kerry need to be able to compete there, to get bigger fellows on the field. So for me Jack Barry starts, and Jack Sherwood starts as well on Brian Howard.

“We need to try and match up physically around the middle of the field. Tommy Walsh gives flexibility as well because he gives that other option out the field. Who’s winning primary ball in the middle of the field will have huge bearing on who withstands the pressure the best.”

Walsh changed the course of the semi-final against Tyrone when introduced in the second half, but O’Sullivan is wary about keeping him in reserve again.

“Should we be putting 50/50 ball up for grabs late in a game? Dublin have no problem funnelling back. If they are four or five points up when Tommy is coming in and we try to lamp ball on top of him, they will swallow it up.

“How many of the Kerry team have played in All-Ireland final? Tommy has great memories of 2009. He kicked four points that day, two with his left and two with his right.

“He’s been away in a pro set-up. He has great experience, temperament for the big day. He just gives the extra but of experience. I’d be leaning towards starting him. He has such good vibes after the last day.”

Quirke's Final Preview: Kerry's matchups. The Fenton factor. Walsh wildcard. Gough controversy

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