A look at Kerry

Okay, we’ve had our weekend off and now the focus is firmly fixed on Tralee this coming Saturday night. There, at Austin Stack Park, Kerry host Mayo in a top of the table National League Division One match, which throws in at 7.30pm. The match will be broadcast live on RTÉ2 and Kildare’s Brendan Cawley is the ref for it.

We always seem to eye League trips to Kerry with a significant degree of caution but our spring record against them down there belies such pusillanimity. Our recent record there is excellent, with wins in Tralee the last two times we played there, in 2019 (on our way to the League title) and also in 2017.

Before that, we beat them in Killarney in 2015, drew with them in Tralee in 2012 and beat them in Tralee in 2010. You have to go back to March 2009, all of thirteen seasons ago, to find our most recent League defeat to them on their turf. Aidan O’Shea, a substitute for Alan Dillon, is the only current player to have featured for us in that game.

We lost to them in Killarney, of course, on a scorching hot day in the Championship in 2019. That, though, was one of those daft Super Eight matches, a game we knew we didn’t really have to come out on top in while they knew they simply had to win. And win they did but both of us ended up getting out of the group and both of us eventually met our end at Dublin’s hands that summer.

But that was then – what have the Kingdom been up to since?

Last year, with Peter Keane still in charge, they had a positive League campaign, sharing the Division One spoils with Dublin, before cantering through Munster in the Championship and then coming unstuck against Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final.

In the League they were in Division One South last year, along with Dublin, Galway and Roscommon. They hammered Galway by a chastening 22 points in the opening round before drawing a rather madcap second round match against Dublin. They then had a comfortable seven-point win over Roscommon to qualify for the Division One semi-final.

That was the game in which they banged six goals past Tyrone, a result that, despite Peter Keane’s best efforts to downplay the size of his team’s 16-point win (by proclaiming that, the goals aside, there was nothing between the sides), placed Kerry on a pedestal. It was also a result that came back to haunt them badly a few months later.

Kerry’s standing as the team that might finally down the Dubs was given further lustre by the manner in which they breezed through Munster. Seventeen points to spare over Clare, eleven over Tipperary and a yawning 22 over Cork, Kerry reached the All-Ireland semi-final completely untested.

Tyrone – unable to play on the appointed date due to a Covid outbreak in the camp – sensationally got the better of Kerry, however, in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final. I was at that game and it was great fun altogether, not least from our perspective. Having beaten Dublin, we now wouldn’t have to take on Kerry in the final. But then Tyrone outfoxed us as well and suddenly it didn’t seem so amusing at all.

The Kingdom’s defeat to Tyrone ultimately cost Peter Keane his job, with Jack O’Connor back this year for a third stint in charge. A tenure with one thing and one thing alone on the agenda – a first All-Ireland victory for Kerry since 2014.

As Dublin’s descent from dominance has turned into a freefall slump this spring, Kerry’s star under O’Connor continues to rise. Like us, they are unbeaten in Division One after four matches and they come into Saturday night top of the table on points difference.

Like us, Kerry drew their opening round game in this year’s League. That was, ironically, against Kildare – where O’Connor was manager until he got the siren call from down south – with the Lilies fighting back late to claim a stirring share of the spoils.

Photo: Irish Independent (Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile)

Kerry got their first win in the second round, beating Dublin by seven points in Tralee. Another home game followed, this time in Killarney, where they beat a hugely disappointing Donegal by nine points. The trip to Iniskeen to play Monaghan last time out had the making of a tricky encounter but they came away from that one with an eight-point win, thanks in no small part to Rory Beggan’s wanderings away from his goal line, which was the root cause of each of Kerry’s three goals in that game.

Now they’re back on home turf on Saturday night, where doubtless they’ll be eager to demonstrate to us what our respective places are in the current pecking order. As, I’ve no doubt, we will too.

Kerry, despite that poor recent record against us, will be favourites to extend their unbeaten run further and, in the process, take a step closer to the League final. We’ll travel south with a fair bit of understated confidence, however, knowing that we’ve managed to get under their skin more than once in recent years and doing what we can to do so again under the lights on Saturday night.

So, then, how do you think we’ll fare out in Tralee the next night? Let’s finish with a vote on that.

How will we fare out against Kerry?

  • Win (46%, 422 Votes)
  • Lose (35%, 324 Votes)
  • Draw (19%, 177 Votes)

Total Voters: 923

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58 thoughts on “A look at Kerry

  1. Kerry will be a serious force come the championship. They have smacked of being all fur coat and no knickers for the past few seasons, seemingly believing that they could saunter out of defence with the ball, without ever having to defend. Soft turnovers and preventable goals have been their undoing, but as much as his sourness and lack of respect for Mayo football grates, O’Connor seems to have identified their weakness and improved them greatly so far. Just one goal (from a penalty) in the first four rounds of the league tells its own story.

    It will be interesting to see what sort of team JH puts out- go with the young guns again as a learning experience, or field a relatively strong team and lay down a marker?

    Any word on Cillian or Jason Doherty?

  2. Mayo should be going to Tralee to wiin. JH has given game time to a lot of the Younger lads. He must know his best 15 by now including Cillian. Now is the time with the league coming to an end to start tuning up our 15 for Galway. Get this Team playing Together and test Kerry. Surly JH will learn a lot from that. A v B and Challenge matches don’t compare to a real league battle in Kerry. Mayo must lay down a marker against one of the Favourites for Sam this year. Let’s put doubt into the Kingdom for the Summer. JH must play his championship Team on Saturday night, (Cillian aside if still injured) learn from the experience and move on.

  3. Kerry’s forward line is a class apart and that will be the winning of the game for them on Saturday night. We can expect to compete hard in every other line but can’t see it being enough to deny them of a home victory.

  4. I enjoyed Stephen Coen’s interview on Patreon. I can imagine he has a real calming, settling influence on the team, a man they can really trust. Fair play he was big enough to acknowledge that he wasn’t playing well in the Monaghan match and that was the reason he was taken off, emphasising he is not bigger than the team. I like that. No doubt he’ll be looking to improve, and improve he most certainly will. Hopefully James leaves him in the holding role at number 6 for the entire year.

    On the Kerry match, I think we’ll see a very strong Mayo team on Saturday, the bulk of which may be the team to start against Galway.

  5. Everyone always talks about the Kerry forward line, but when it came down to it last year they were totally reliant on David Clifford vs Tyrone. The year before when Clifford had an off day they only managed 13 points vs Cork after extra time.

    Tom O’Sullivan is probably the best corner back in the game. Will be interesting to see how Ryan gets on against him.

  6. Clifford and O Shea are probably the two best forwards in the game and the other Clifford is impressive as well. When Kerry get a run on you there is no stopping them. I remember they kicked some fantastic points against us in the Super 8 match in 2019. However if you can hang in there against them you have a chance. Tyrone did it last year and Cork did it the previous year. Kildare in league this year. Keep it competitive for as long as possible and see where that takes us.

  7. Enjoyed the chat with Coen on the podcast. It is worth watching the Durcan point again, as Mayo players all take off up the pitch Coen stops and turns back into the middle to mind the house.

  8. Aidan o shea had a video up of mchale Park under the lights yesterday and the pitch was cut and looked unreal I hope its ready for the galway game.

  9. I think James H is in the luxury position next Sat eve to rotate and experiment again, against one of the country’s best sides, and no better team than Kerry to pit some of our less experienced lads against.
    However i would like to see him James settling on his 1st choice team for the last couple of league games, esp as the opening Connacht championship game against Galway isn’t that far away now.
    He probably has half or more of his starting championship team in mind already.
    Jack O’Connors philosophy so far seems to be settle on your 1st team early in the year and play as much together as possible from then on.
    Still, apart from their forwards, I see plenty of weaknesses elsewhere. To be honest one shouldn’t read into their wins against Monaghan, Donegal an Dublin too much. In those games, i believe the opposition capitulated a bit, and were poor enough at times really.
    They haven’t met anyone like us yet..
    Up Mayo!

  10. I think this talk of settling on your first 15 is outdated.
    It’s more like settling on your first 26,ie the 20 players or so that’ll play on the day and you also have to have extra to incorporate injuries etc.
    Almost every game in the league Mayo have finished the game with a better team on the pitch.

    I’ll be at the game on Saturday,I was there in 2019 too and a few weeks later when we won the league and then in the summer when the match was over at ht.Although we still qualified out of that super 8 group,kerry still hamered us in the summer.If we win on sat we’re well on the way to meeting them again a few weeks later in the final,I won’t be too bothered if we lose on sat but put in a good performance and get some more valuable experience into the new guys.I think a league final would be a bit if a distraction, we need to start laser focusing in on Galway soon.That is going to be a titanic battle.

  11. Is this the Mayo GAA Blog or the fawning over Kerry blog? What of merit have they won since 2014? We were robbed blind that date in Limerick… Answer is not a lot. So let’s stop holding them up on a pedestal.

    Clifford is talented yet look at the calibre of backs we have to limit him. S O Shea scores lots of frees. P Clifford runs around a lot. O Sullivan is good.

    Kerry are joint top of the table as they drew with Kildare, beat a poor Dublin (as we did) Donegal gave up against Kerry and bar Beggan the game V Monaghan would have been much different. Again, have them on a pedestal.

    Mayo have nothing to fear against Kerry and why would they. None of this nonsense let’s go down and see how we get on. You play to win. We were the whipping boys for Kerry for long enough, no more. Our recent results prove that.

    We have a very strong 26, go down to Tralee and Mayo will fight for everything.

  12. Put out best team against Kerry and beat them, great morale booster for later in year. Clifford has been marked out of games in the past by poorer defenders than Mayo have, students in recent games, Cork defender last year, O Shea is deadly on frees , so dont give him any. From now on beat every team by as much as possible and build up confidence.

  13. Posters are right to query Kerry’s supposed brilliance. However, the stats show they have scored most, and conceded least, of all D1 teams. Our points difference is +9, which is so so for joint leaders. We haven’t set the world on fire in the scoring department.

    Let’s hope our great record in Tralee comes to the rescue on Saturday.

  14. @Mayo13BG: I don’t see many people here fawning over Kerry, but the fact is that the last time we played the Kingdom down there in a competitive fixture we got a proper hiding. And if we start sluggishly, as we have done in most of our league games this term, then the game will likely be over by half-time again. I personally would be a bit concerned about the amount of goal chances that we are giving up per game, and also a tendency towards conceding soft frees in scorable position.

    Tyrone last year showed that the league doesn’t have that much bearing on the latter stages of the championship, so it’s up to the management team as to whether they want to target this fixture or not.

    Hopefully, JH’s younger charges can stay with them til half-time, and bring the cavalry on in the second half, to try to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as in recent fixtures. AOS in particular seems to have gotten a new lease of life from being sprung from the bench.

    Who would you put on Clifford? I’d take Harrison if fit, but am not sure if he has recovered from injury yet?

  15. Very intrigued to see who Horan puts on Clifford, O Se & Paudi Clifford. Not to mention Geaney & Cillian Spillane. Don’t think any back can live with these lads one on one. Might need to strangle them in the middle to win this!

  16. @mayo13BG.i agree fully with your points. Go out to win and beat them again if we meet and again after that and maybe we’ll become a bit better than “plucky”. The days of ignoring league results should be gone. Listen to any of the retired dubs and they’ll all say they targeted kerry and mayo every year in every game so as not to give them an edge. No doubt kerry are as good as what’s out there but not any more than that.

  17. Can anyone please tell me when Mayo v Galway is the loser out of the all Ireland or is there a back door

  18. Culmore we bet them twice in the space of 3 weeks in 2019, didn’t do much for us against Roscommon and in Killarney later on in the championship.
    James should start players that need more game time or players that are on the fringes to know his best 15 for Galway. This game won’t count for much once the Galway game comes around.

  19. John Joyce – this has already been asked and answered plenty of times. Yes, there is a backdoor this year and it shouldn’t take anyone more than a minute or two Googling to find this out for themselves.

  20. Just have a feeling Jack O Conor wont be targeting a win here and try out some fringe players for this game, he maybe thinking of later summer for us and keep his powder dry for now

  21. Everything we’ve seen from Jack O’Connor so far would suggest he’ll play the strongest team possible. Even with us, most of the experimentation was because of injuries/availability, not some big plan to take it easy during the league.

  22. I would like to wish Ex Mayo manager Mickey Moran all the very best in his retirement from coaching and managing. Today Mickey steeped down ending a 40 year career in Coaching and Managing Gaelic Football team’s, 3 week’s after leading Kilcoo to the holy grail and their first All Ireland Senior Club Title. I recall Mickey kissing the ground just in front of the Hill 16 Goal, where Kilkoo, got a lucky break and a goal, 3 week’s ago, was Mickey saying goodbye,or thanking his lucky stars?.. Anyhow we should all be thankful to Mickey for his enormous contribution to Gaelic Football in his long career. Nothing quite like going out while on the top Mickey!

  23. Echo every word of that Leantimes.

    If anyone has a spare ticket for Tralee, I’d be delighted. 0872255017

  24. Mayo have settled into a pattern of a balanced starting 15 and introducing impact subs later to give them the edge. It’s working well and i dont see any reason to change.
    I think A O Shea is managing his role particularly well. He observes what’s happening and has a very focused role when introduced. TBH I don’t know would we have won any of our matches without his timely introduction.

  25. Well said Leantimes Mickey Moran was an excellent manager and a gentleman i wish him well in retirement and am glad he got his all ireland as a manager. I personally think Kerry will win Sam this year they have the forwards to do it and their defence is tightening up. If it was a shootout between us and Kerry in Croke Park they would win especially in an all Ireland final. Were not doing too badly at all in the league Saturday night will give us a good idea of where we are at.

  26. Staying in Killarney on Saturday night. Anyone know of any buses offering return journeys? Want to get to tralee in time for the rugby and public transport times aren’t ideal.

    Also any recommendations for good sports bars in Tralee welcome.

  27. While there is an argument to try and go and beat other strong teams, neither Dublin or Kerry typically had tough championship games coming up. If we were to win, then likely to get to a league final where we would likely play Kerry again. Do we need that distraction two weeks before Galway? While Galway will likely be in a league final that weekend also, they would already have achieved promotion which would be the primary goal. I would prefer to try players / alternate strategies to see how they work out rather than primarily focusing on winning. If we still win, then that is a bonus but not the main objective.

  28. Spare ticket for Saturday’s game Inn Tralee. Txt 0863296001 if interested.

  29. League final 2/3 April…. Mayo v galway 24th April. 3 weeks ideal time to play a final before galway game should mayo get to the final

  30. FW and Mayo13BG, I respect your opinions lads. What I’m saying about wanting JH to start to think about his starting team for the Con. Championship is, I’m not just saying his starting 1 to 15, I’m including the bench too. But then, who am I to doubt the gaffer. As I said earlier, he probably has most of the side for 24/4 planned allready.
    Regarding fawning over Kerry, far from it i am. I am a student and lover of the game and of the great sides historically, and Kerry have great pedigree, and I’ve always admired their style (apart from that shower they sent to Castlebar in the league a coupla yrs back who attempted a few thuggish moves), so I’ll casually comment on them occasionally like i will on all those we face. But It’s pure unadulerated 100% west Mayo blood here I assure you, an down South on Sat eve next ’twill be far from fawning over those yerrahs I’ll be.
    As my old buddy Seosamh from Aghagower would say,
    Tiocfaidh ár Lá Mhaigh Eo!!

  31. I don’t understand the narrative of not going out to win , like what do people actually mean ? I understand some games are of more importance than others but to actually not want to win is nonsense . Kerry with their tails up on a mission and we have a chance to put them on their hole , absolutely go hell for leather into it imo . If we don’t win on the other hand I totally understand it’s not the end of the world .

  32. I had better lay off the sherry when posting late at night!.
    Here’s to another excellent performance in Tralee next Sat eve, and maybe some more action for those on the fringes, and most importantly, maintain discipline and no injuries.
    MaighEo abú!

  33. Just out of interest. Does anyone know(maybe it’s been asked already). Is the pitch in the Hyde sown or was it roll out sod.?

  34. Doesn’t every team want to win every game? I mean, if you actually asked them…….
    Anything else just doesn’t add up.
    If they won they’d be a little disappointed?

  35. Would like to see Aidan Orme be a bit more greedier Saturday , to take on his man more when one on one rather than recycling it and to take on more on shots, he’s well capable of it of racking up scores, has been in the top 3 scorers from play in the Club scene in Mayo for the last 3 seasons.

  36. Cheers wj. Was hoping it would be a sown pitch as it’s a fantastic job. The weather for Saturday evening in tralee is looking like a shit show at the minute.

  37. cannot make the trip south this weekend, so I have 2 season tickets to spare.

    any takers send me contact details.

  38. I don’t think JH will change tack too much for this game. Expect one of McHugh or callinan in defense and Irwin, Carney or towey in the forwards.

    Will be interesting to see if Bryan Walsh returns. He had a free moved forward, presumably for some lip, against the dubs and as soon as I saw that I felt he wouldn’t be selected against Armagh. Great to be in a position where we can essentially give players a suspension for these kind of things.

    Orme will be persisted with, and probably McDonagh too. Will be interesting to see if loftus starts or if Doherty or maybe even Cillian could come in.

    One thing I think JH might experiment with is man marking Clifford and O’Shea. Not sure who’ll take Clifford but previously Keegan picked up O’Shea, so I’m going to put my neck out here and predict Enda Hession will come in for Lee

  39. Pitch in Hyde was in excellent condition. Looked a lovely surface. And the stand is on the right side re prevailing wind. No vertical pillars supporting roof, unlike castlebar. No place like home but Hyde is a good option.

  40. Our number one priority, every game, should be to win, and just end of IMHO. Never understood the reasoning of saying otherwise. Yes it’s only the league and yes the league final if we make it would be a bit of a nuisance really and yes obviously there’s only one prize that matters but here’s the thing – the way to make the opposition fear us, and to get us closer along the road to that prize, is to beat them every time. Again and again, championship and league, like a certain outfit used to do to us until not so very long ago. That kind of aura is worth a few points’ headstart if you lay it down year in, year out. And winning becomes a habit. So enough says I of the thinking that sure it’s only a glorified challenge match really and let’s go full-on and take the Kingdom in Tralee. Maigh Eo abú!

  41. I’m interested to see if we follow the same format of naming the team and subs early in the week and then on the day sticking with the team named. Or will it be different for Kerry!

  42. One dual I’m looking forward to on Saturday evening is Mattie & Diarmid O’Connor (the Kerry version) assuming both play,some ding dong battles in the past between the two.
    Also wondering if Rob Hennelly is fit or will Rory B get another chance to enhance his prospects.
    Team will be named tomorrow I’d imagine.

  43. Well lads,

    You may bring the ponchos because it’s not looking great for Sat.

    The stand fills up quickly so if your need a seat get in early.

    Decent pubs, Blaskets, McCarthys infact the Guinness is good in Tralee.

    Best two teams in the country in my opinion and we need a win over Mayo as you’ve had our number in the last few occasions in Tralee.

  44. Interested to see if McBrien features. Boyler had great things to say about him as a potential long term Full-back solution and Horan has name checked him a couple of times. Feel it’s time he got his chance if injuries have cleared up.

    Other than that good to see how Midfield of Flynn and Ruane match up against Kerry duo.

    Also interested to see who gets the two Half-forward berths beside Diarmuid. Those two starting places definitely up for grabs, like the look of Carney, think he can grab one of those.

    Hope we continue with strong bench policy. Aido and McLoughlin great options to have when needed.

  45. Well said Erris in London,play what is in front of us,we will take care of our opponents later down the line,with all good wishes to gamechanger and West Kerry,we need the victim far more than you, hopefully it will be a great game with no injuries

  46. West Kerry, I’m convinced there is a secret passage- way into the stand in Tralee that only the locals know about . Last time I was there, I was a full 2 hours queueing before throw in, and hey presto , when I got into the Stand it was full.

  47. I have a spare ticket for Saturday’s game in Tralee. Text 087 799 1427 if interested. You’ll have to leave an e-mail address so I can send the ticket on to you. Thanks.

  48. He is, for sure, Sean – the preview pod (minus the bonus clubhouse chat at the end) is now available on all other platforms as well.

  49. Will Aido start or continue his impact sub role? It’s likely both he and David Moran will have similar jobs in Saturday evening.

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