Forcing Steven Cluxton to kick long will be key to Kerry hopes

Forcing Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton to abandon his trademark short kick-out will be central to Kerry’s back-to-back All-Ireland bid, according to Darragh Ó Sé.

The six-time All-Ireland-winning Kerry footballer believes Cluxton has been somewhat underwhelming this summer and could be found out if the Kerry forwards cut off the availability of Dublin defenders to receive the short kick-out.

“I think they will have to focus on his kick-outs, he is too good a kicker to ignore,” said Ó Sé on Radio Kerry last night.

“If we can make Cluxton kick long, I think he is under pressure with his kicking. His kicking isn’t as good as it was in other years. They are not bringing him up for frees, he is flapping a small bit.

“Anthony Maher and David Moran are setting the tone now at midfield. If we give it a good shake the next time, I think it will be the first time in a long time that Kerry have two All Star midfielders. They both deserve it this year. If the lads play any way well at all, it will be very hard to overlook the two of them.”

Dublin bagged three goals in the semi-final replay against Mayo and the former Kerry midfielder says it is pivotal that the Kingdom defence draw the steel curtains from the off on Sunday.

“Dublin feed on goals. The Hill go mad, the crowd go mad. We can’t let Dublin run at us. If we do see a fella coming, we want to see two fellas ready for him. I think all the bases will be covered. Kerry have a good defence.

“You look at the two games Kerry lost to Dublin, the final [in 2011] and the semi-final [in 2013], Kerry have come a long way since that. Winning an All-Ireland gives massive confidence. There were younger players who won their first All-Ireland last year, they will be bigger and better from that. They will want to build on that.

If we can stop goals the next day, I think we will win by four or five-points.”

Eoin Liston, meanwhile, reckons Cian O’Sullivan’s fitness will hold a major bearing on the outcome.

The Dublin defender suffered a hamstring injury in the closing stages of the replayed semi-final on Saturday week last.

“If Cian O’Sullivan isn’t right and isn’t playing, I think that could turn the balance in our favour,” mused the former Kerry full-forward.

“Cian O’Sullivan is a huge player for them. He plays as a sweeper, has massive pace and is massive to Dublin in terms of his ability to read the game. When you pull a hamstring and I thought he pulled it badly… I can’t see him being 100% right after two weeks.

“The big task for the Kerry management is having all their match-ups correct.”

Elsewhere, two-time All-Ireland-winning Cork footballer Colman Corrigan has thrown his weight behind John Cleary to succeed Brian Cuthbert as senior football manager.

“I don’t think we should go outside the county to get a new manager. There is a fella there that played with us [in the 80s and early 90s]. He has come through the U21 ranks as a manager. He has been involved with Castlehaven. He knows the players there. I think John Cleary should get the job.”

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