THE suspensions handed down to Paul Galvin and Tomás O Sé have further stretched Kerry’s playing resources as the season enters its critical stage.
Galvin and O Sé are enormous losses given the influence they have exerted this season and accordingly, Kerry are at their most vulnerable entering the last eight.
But do Down have the wherewithal to capitalise? The Ulster side have history on their side in a flawless head-to-head championship record against Kerry, yet they need more than tradition to spook their opponents. Their form of late has been encouraging after chiselling out wins over Longford and Offaly, they walloped Sligo last week. The form of Damien Rafferty, Kalum King and Daniel Hughes are reasons for optimism, and last week illustrated that Ronan Murtagh is a serious attacking weapon in reserve. It is their glamour names of Marty Clarke and Benny Coulter that need to give big displays this afternoon.
Kerry will have been glad of a few weeks’ rest after the Munster final, given the hectic time they endured before claiming provincial honours. The two Cork games were testing affairs and Limerick’s persistence meant they could never relax. The Limerick match magnified the areas that required improvement, with Tom O’Sullivan having a torrid time against Ger Collins, their midfield creaking badly until Micheal Quirke was introduced and Kieran Donaghy kept quiet.
Yet Declan O’Sullivan and Colm Cooper continue to maintain their phenomenal high standards, and Donaghy is capable of thriving now he is back in Croke Park. Quirke is unlikely to last the full 70 minutes but his influence will be key in preventing Down from dominating.
The Ulster side have a chance here to claim a famous scalp. But the memories of their second-half collapse against Tyrone are still vivid and the suspicion is that Kerry’s big game experience will be the deciding factor.
- Verdict: Kerry
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