Tyrone’s three-time All Star Philip Jordan believes Kerry remain behind Mayo in the race to catch up with Dublin.
Jordan feels the Kingdom will still depend heavily on Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy this summer, who are currently unavailable to Éamonn Fitzmaurice.
He still ranks them ahead of his native county but raises question marks about their attack. “They are definitely in the top four teams in the country, along with Mayo, Tyrone, and then Dublin still a fair bit ahead of everyone else, and I wouldn’t write any of those off from winning Sam Maguire,” he writes in his RTÉ.ie column.
“Kerry though aren’t in the top two, I’d have them behind Mayo and a bit ahead of Tyrone, and that’s not something that’s been said about them very often so they don’t top my list of contenders.
“Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony have both retired with no one stepping straight into their boots and it’s in defence that they are feeling the loss of experienced players most.
“Kerry like to play a certain way and even though they have become more defensive like everyone else, they were able to rely on the best forwards in the country. They don’t have the best forwards in the country anymore either so they are going to have to pay more attention to their defensive set-up.
“Not having the best man-markers around isn’t as important as it was in the past at the back — I don’t know can I even mention five out-and-out man-markers anymore. Lads in the full-back line can play a riskier game now and challenge for the ball knowing that the cover is there.”
Jordan says Kerry need James O’Donoghue to rediscover his 2014 Footballer of the Year form to help Paul Geaney pick up the slack in attack. “Up front they will still be relying heavily on the Gooch and Kieran Donaghy come the summer. Paul Geaney stepped up a lot last year and he will be a big player for them this season even given a slow start to the league and James O’Donoghue needs to come back into his best form after all his injury troubles.”
The Moy man also questions how helpful the Munster SFC is to Kerry. “Some people like to say that Kerry have it easy and go straight into an All-Ireland quarter-final every year, but this is a disadvantage too. If they don’t get momentum in the league, it can be hard to build it before they get to Croke Park and that’s something that will be weighing on Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s mind.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved