Advantage Kerry is Eoin Brosnan’s assessment of their delicately balanced All-Ireland semi-final replay with Mayo — even if he knows the Kingdom have already used up their get-out-of-jail card last Sunday.
Stephen Rochford’s side seem to have a few of them but the former Kerry star, who won two of his three All-Ireland medals in finals against Mayo, expects his county to be the better of finally experiencing a battle in the drawn game.
“Kerry had won their games pretty comfortably. Clare were up early in the first half, but Kerry ran out
comfortable winners. They had two easy wins against Cork and Galway whereas Mayo had been exposed and then identified where their weaknesses were. There were a few games they could have lost but things went well against Roscommon and by then they had presumably addressed a lot of what had been going wrong for them. Kerry hadn’t had that opportunity until the last day. I know six days isn’t ideal to try and turn around all these issues in full but I’m sure they’ll make a good go of it.”
It’s generally agreed Aidan O’Shea’s switch to full-back wasn’t a success but Brosnan suggests it did upset how Kerry’s defenders were going to line out against the Mayo
“Kerry were a bit thrown by some of tactical decisions made by Mayo. Things probably didn’t work for Mayo in terms of Lee Keegan, who could have had a big influence in the game, and obviously, they’ll be hoping to get more out of Aidan O’Shea, wherever they decide to play him.
“The relocation of Aidan O’Shea to full-back probably threw a lot of our match-ups into disarray really and fellas had to react on the field and that takes a bit of time to get used to that. Once a fella is told earlier in the week he’s going to be marking such and such a player and then you find them way down the field it can throw a little bit.”
Brosnan expects Kerry’s back-line will be reminded of their duties
instead of Éamonn Fitzmaurice
deploying a sweeper.
“Watching the game last day, I couldn’t see Kerry picking out a fella beforehand and telling him his
out-and-out role is a sweeper. Individually, fellas have to realise if their man isn’t involved in the play they have to give more protection to the full-back line. It’s one area Kerry need to address, the glaring one but as Éamonn said you can’t fully blame the full-back line because there was so much room in front of them. It’s just a tweak of tactics that’s required and I think that will be implemented.”
As a Dr Crokes man, Brosnan would dearly love to see more than just Johnny Buckley starting for Kerry today. As well as Fionn Fitzgerald on the bench, fellow All-Ireland senior club winners Shane Murphy and Gavin White are also part of the extended panel.
“There are four guys inside training and there were two guys on the 26 the last day. Johnny was obviously captain and Fionn didn’t get
game-time. He probably didn’t have his best outing against Galway but then after the last day there are
positions up for grabs. It often takes a kick up the backside to get the best form out of fellas and hopefully Fionn will come back storming.
“You’d like to see more Crokes
fellas on the team but when training is behind closed doors we’re like everyone else in that we don’t know who is showing form or what’s
Lewis Road is Crokes’ soil but the sessions behind the gates in Fitzgerald Stadium is subject to an omerta no ex-player like Brosnan is privy to.
It’s the same, he points out, in Mayo who kept O’Shea their
tactic under wraps up until the morning of the game at least when word of it spread through the Croke Park press box.
“It’s the level of the professionalism now,” he says of the secrecy
associated with training.
“I know it’s an amateur game but it’s pretty much professional at the level the lads are at and you just can’t afford to give the other team any edge.
“I was no different to anybody
else above in the stand last Sunday and there were rumours about
this fella and that fella starting and there was no foundation about them at all.
“Mayo would have been trying Aidan O’Shea at full-back in training but there was a lot in print about who would be playing there and there wasn’t too many fellas right — only David Brady — and that was thrown out as a wild comment at the time.
“If that had happened in open training with modern technology and what not that wouldn’t have taken too long to be on video down in Killarney and being studied by the Kerry management.”
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