Kerry need added pace, reckons Ambrose O’Donovan

Ambrose O’Donovan says Kerry will have to inject more pace into their team if they are to break their Dublin hoodoo.

O’Donovan wasn’t overly despondent with Sunday’s 11-point defeat although he felt “what could go wrong for Kerry, did go wrong”.

However, he feels Kerry must introduce more speed to their starting team if they meet them again later in the year.

“It was disappointing, in the sense that they had been so good in their previous games but you could take nothing away from Dublin. They’re a serious side and they’re easy on the eye. What they showed up in us was a lack of pace. If we’re to compete with them we must match them athletically and weren’t able to do that.

“You just have to push up on (Stephen) Cluxton’s kick-outs. We did it for about five or six minutes but that’s not enough. He starts their attacks, he make them tick. His kick-outs are superb and he has to be made to kick it out to the middle.”

The 1984 All-Ireland-winning captain doesn’t believe Kerry’s problem with Dublin has become psychological.

“It’s just they’re just getting harder to beat,” he argues.

“James (O’Donoghue) was an awful loss to us and Johnny Buckley is a loss. The one great thing about Éamonn Fitzmaurice is he does learn from defeats and to beat Dublin it will start with (Stephen) Cluxton. We’re downhearted but I still wouldn’t write Kerry off. It would be a foolish man to write Kerry off.”

On the subject of the treatment of Kieran Donaghy, O’Donovan agrees with Éamonn Fitzmaurice the Austin Stacks man finds it difficult to win frees for fouls committed against him. However, he felt Dublin were mostly clean while tough in negating his influence on Sunday.

“I felt in a couple of games he has been pulled and dragged and he’s not always getting a fair crack from the umpires or the referee.

“The fact he’s such a big man, he comes in for a lot of pulling and dragging. But I have to say Dublin marked him very well. They crowded him, put a three-man team on him.”

Jim Gavin felt there was nothing untoward in his defence’s detailing of Donaghy.

“I thought our defence coped admirably with him (Donaghy). He is a very big player, very talented footballer, not easily watched if you take your eye off Kieran he will punish you with goals and points.

“I thought our defence played a very fair game, we were very disciplined in our tackling, we had a very good structure around the broken ball and guys really committed themselves to that breaking ball and I thought we coped with it really well.”

O’Donovan expects the race for starting positions to heat up in the Kerry panel ahead of June’s Munster semi-final. The older players will keep their spots if they’re good enough, he states. “Competition will come in the backs because we have young (Brian) Begley to come back and other U21s too. There is a very competitive panel. Marc (Ó Sé) and Aidan (O’Mahony), nobody to date has been able to take the jerseys off them. Éamonn’s been picking on form and that’s the way he’s working it.”

As for Fitzmaurice’s goalkeeper rotation policy, O’Donovan anticipates that will now end. “I think they will stop changing the goalie now. I was kind of dubious about it. They’re two good goalkeepers but for the sake of continuity and getting to know our backs you have to stick with one. I think the rotation will stop now especially with the Munster championship coming up.”


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