Jack O’Connor says the Kerry players will be fuelled by the 2019 All-Ireland final replay defeat to Dublin when they face their great rivals on July 10.
O’Connor believes Dessie Farrell’s side are looking like the Dublin of old, the one that broke all records between 2015 and ‘20, but knows he won’t have to say much to rouse his own charges.
“The bottom line here is these Kerry players have been yearning to get a cut at the Dubs from as far back as three years ago. They lost an All-Ireland out there that they would feel they could have won. We certainly won’t be lacking motivation but neither will Dublin.
“Dublin will want to show that they’re back as good as ever, the team that won the six-in-a-row. They had a blip last year and they look to have rediscovered the hunger and the drive that got them to that six in a row.”
Kerry have injury concerns over six players going into that game – David Clifford (ankle), Brian Ó Beaglaoich (leg), Diarmuid O’Connor (back) and Jason Foley (possible concussion) were all replaced – while Jack Barry and Adrian Spillane were not included in the matchday 26.
“Jack Barry strained his calf and Adrian Spillane strained his hamstring in the last week or so so they'll also be in a race against time.
“Obviously David was struggling through much of the first half. The boys worked on him at half-time but obviously he has an injury and, sure, look, we'll have to wait and see and get it scanned and see what's the story.
“I'd say Begley (Ó Beaglaoich) was only a cramp. Diarmuid got a heavy fall, he fell on his back, and he was a bit shook. He was on a yellow card anyway so it suited us to take him off maybe.”
O’Connor admitted the management considered replacing Clifford after he broke down several times in the first half.
"We did, absolutely. But he's the kind of a player you'd nearly give the benefit of the doubt to most of the time. He's not just an ordinary player and he showed it with the goal he scored which was a serious goal because it came at a time when we were struggling to get scores and we were struggling to get a foothold in the game. That's the class of the man, that's what he can do."
O’Connor again expressed his dislike of the four-week break the provincial winners had between their respective finals and this weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, and felt it was a factor in Kerry’s sluggish first half against Mayo.
“We needed a game. I mean, it's ridiculous, we were sitting for four weeks watching our opposition playing games. It's almost like you're penalised for winning the provincial championship.
“Thankfully, that changes next year but it's a crazy system. What do you do? You try to make training as intense as possible and hope for the best. From watching that first half I thought we were a fair bit off the pace.”