THE recovery period has passed and Kerry and Dublin are back working hard in advance of the replay.
It’s likely that both squads will be undergoing mini training camps this weekend, following a similar routine that they completed in advance of the final last Sunday.
Smart preparations though, rather than extra training, will still be the priority to ensure players are fresh in eight days.
The planning and analysis done away from the training pitch will, therefore, be key. The drawn game illustrated once again the importance of tactics in the modern game whether it be kick-outs, defensive systems, or specific attacking plays.
Opinions are divided, in that Dublin will surely improve considering they were down to 14 players for half the game. Similarly, Kerry, while regretting missed scoring opportunities, will have gained belief that they can really open up this Dublin defence.
Yes, both teams have the potential to improve on last Sunday’s performance. What actual improvement they make though is dependent on what the opposition bring to an extent. It’s like you can have a great game plan, but you still got to play what’s happening in front of you.
Dublin started okay initially, but they will be disappointed with the type of turnovers they had in the middle section of the first half.
Both James McCarthy and Michael Fitzsimons lost possession cheaply near the opposition 45 while John Small had a wild shot from distance. A similar pattern to the Mayo game.
This was quickly followed by Dublin losing three of their own long kick-outs in a row. Credit Jack Barry for two great fetches, but the combination of lost possession and turnovers gave momentum to Kerry and an easier platform for them to the break down the Dublin defence.
These are areas they will target again in the replay.
Kerry went from three one down to going ahead four points to three. They could have been further ahead as David Clifford had a poor miss and Paul Geaney missed a crucial penalty.
Also, Dublin’s defensive discipline was poor with Johnny Cooper’s sending off plus James McCarthy and John Small punished for off the ball fouls, which led to two Kerry scores.
Referee David Gough was particularly focused on the off the ball fouling so it will be interesting how much emphasis Conor Lane will put on the same area in the replay.
Sean O’Shea punished Dublin’s indiscipline each time in the first half, which gave crucial oxygen to the Kerry performance as, at that time, the conversion rate from play was poor.
O’Shea made a few errors in the closing minutes when fatigue had a big part to play. Nevertheless, he had a huge game and had a great battle early on with McCarthy.
As is expected, Kerry use the kick pass effectively, if allowed, and Dublin certainly gave them that extra space to take advantage. I think Dublin will zone in on this for the replay, particularly to deal with the threat of Tommy Walsh inside and O’Shea on the 40.
On occasions, Brian Fenton was giving David Moran too much space to come deep, gain possession, turn, and deliver a kick pass to O’Shea at centre-forward. Moving the ball long with a kick pass rather than carrying it through the hands every time ensured Kerry weren’t taking as much out of the legs.
Fenton didn’t reach his usual high standards, but I think some of that was due to the events around him. Kick-outs were kept away and Dublin didn’t hold possession long enough to take advantage of Fenton’s strengths.
What will please Dublin is that when they did retain possession and worked the ball into the scoring range, they were either scoring from play or winning frees. This is encouraging considering Paul Murphy was back as sweeper and Kerry’s middle eight were getting back quickly to double up or just to shut off space.
In addition, Dublin had a man less for the second half and Brian Howard’s creativity was missed further up the filed as he was stationed at wing-back after Cooper’s dismissal.
In the replay, Dublin will look to be more patient when attacking off second phase, while also looking to reduce the soft turnovers in the middle zone of the field, which has crept into their recent performances. Methods used in breaking down the blanket defence will be practiced and redeployed for the replay no doubt.
Kerry, meanwhile, might be content that Dublin were limited to two goal chances. Following a similar pattern to the defensive displays in the Donegal and Tyrone games, there seems to be a greater emphasis on shape and positioning rather than directly engaging in physical combat.
As predicted last week, limiting Dublin’s goalscoring opportunities and a strong Kerry kick-out would be key to a possible Kerry victory. Not quite a Kerry win on the day, but they were still big factors in the draw.
Looking at the numbers alone Kerry did well, winning 74% of their own kick-outs.
In reality, Dublin were inches away at times from winning a couple of kick-outs in very dangerous positions. Dublin will feel with the same approach they can do better the next day. This can lead to goal chances and game-changing moments.
Time will tell of course but wouldn’t it be great the be a fly on the wall as both teams fine-tune their preparations in advance of another great spectacle?
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