The other semi-final

Kerry Tyrone 2003

Photo: RTÉ/Inpho

The first of this year’s All-Ireland football semi-finals is on this coming Sunday so I guess it’s worth having a think about this game. This isn’t a case of getting ahead of ourselves – I don’t think any of us are in anything other than one-game-at-a-time mode now – but it’s just simply that Sunday’s tie is one of the three matches left to play in this year’s championship.

Before turning to the Kerry/Tyrone match, though, there’s some other coverage in today’s papers that’s worth flagging, concerning as it does our game on Sunday week.

There’s a piece in today’s Irish Independent with Dublin manager Jim Gavin who does his bit to big us up, saying we have momentum coming into the contest following the win over Donegal. But then in the same piece, Jim describes the one-sided thumping they gave us in the League earlier this year as “a cracking game.” He also reckons that the black card is doing its job, that there’s no diving epidemic at the minute and that refereeing standards and consistency in officiating are improving all the time. Can I have a shot of whatever it was he was drinking?

Staying with our match, County Board PRO Aiden McLoughlin is quoted in a piece in the Irish Examiner about the demand for tickets within the county for Sunday week. Aiden explains that the original plan was to make some tickets available for general sale this week but he says that the strong online sales last week combined with the likelihood that the allocation they have for distribution to the clubs won’t satisfy demand means there’ll be none left over to do this. Sold out means sold out, in other words.

Right, onto Sunday’s game, where already there’s plenty of talk so far this week about what was the defining rivalry in Gaelic football in the Noughties, one that, though long over now, means there’ll be a fair bit of an edge to Sunday’s penultimate round meeting between Kerry and Tyrone. Kerry had ten points to spare over Mickey Harte’s team when the counties last met in the championship – in a Round 3 qualifier tie in Killarney in 2012 – but it’ll be their first meeting at HQ since the 2008 All-Ireland final, when the Red Hand lowered the Kingdom’s colours for the third time in six years.

Tyrone beat Kerry in winning each of the three All-Irelands they won in that decade, twice in the final, but the match that still sticks in Kerry’s craw was surely the first one, back in the 2003 semi-final, when they got chewed up and spat out by Tyrone and their ferocious swarm tactics. It was, of course, that one that also spawned Pat Spillane’s bile about “puke football”, a moniker that the Red Hand have never subsequently been able to shake off.

Although Kerry celebrated that qualifier win in 2012 like they’d won Sam – I recall at the time remarking somewhat facetiously about how that win was Kerry’s All-Ireland that year (so it proved as Donegal beat them in the quarters a few weeks later) – Sunday’s semi-final is their first opportunity since then to take Tyrone down in Croke Park. It’s not the same Tyrone nowadays, of course, with only the two Cavanaghs and Justin McMahon (with Joe out injured) left from the 2008 team but Kerry have plenty more survivors from then in their ranks and they’ll all be keen to assuage some old nightmares against a county that fairly had their number in the last decade.

The Tiernan McCann affair – and the everyone-is-agin-us feeling it’s sure to have engendered in Tyrone, not least given the talent shown by the Kerry lads to take a dive when the situation warrants it without The Sunday Game exploding in a welter of righteous indignation – provides a combustible backdrop to Sunday’s semi. If McCann gets off tonight – which he surely will, given that the charge is a totally trumped-up one – that might cool tempers somewhat but there’s sure to be a distinct whiff of cordite in the air around HQ on Sunday afternoon all the same.

For my money, Tyrone are only a pale shadow of that great 2003/8 team and while I reckon the current Kerry team are anything but unbeatable (having used up at least a decade’s worth of luck last year) they’ll surely have more than enough in the locker to win this one. The bookies have Kerry at 3/10 to win this one and I’d be surprised if there’s anything less than five or six points between them at the finish.

What do you reckon – who’ll win on Sunday?

Who'll win on Sunday?

  • Kerry (64%, 238 Votes)
  • Tyrone (36%, 132 Votes)

Total Voters: 370

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42 thoughts on “The other semi-final

  1. “For my money, Tyrone are only a pale shadow of that great 2003/8 team and while I reckon the current Kerry team are anything but unbeatable (having used up at least a decade’s worth of luck last year) they’ll surely have more than enough in the locker to win this one. The bookies have Kerry at 3/10 to win this one and I’d be surprised if there’s anything less than five or six points between them at the finish.”

    word for word my exact thoughts WJ!

    Tyrone are not much more than average, while Kerry themselves aren’t as good as many seem to think (that All Ireland win last year- perhaps the softest in memory- has them being talked up more than they should be and because “they’re Kerry”).

    Still they should have far too much for a limited Tyrone side, even if it might take them a while to put them away. I don’t ever see the result being in doubt though and think it’ll be handy overall for the Kingdom.

    If we were out I’m not even sure I’d bother watching this tbh

    Roll on Sunday week!

  2. Tyrone will have a good shot at reducing Kerry’s numbers on the pitch. And they’re good at it.

  3. Think Tyrone might give them a much better game than people think. They beat us in Castlebar in the league and should have beaten the Dubs in Croker under lights but for a last minute goal. If they get the blanket correctly in place and get their runners going against that Kerry defence, it could get very interesting. I would love it if they beat Kerry.

  4. I honestly thought that Tyrone win in Castlebar was down to our own indifference than their competence

    I remember at the time feeling we resembled a team just working on a few certain things like short kick outs galore- even if it allowed them re-assemble the troops all in their own half- and letting quick ball into the forwards, even if each time they were in a good position to swallow up

    There was a negative reaction at the time but I thought it was way OTT. It was early in the league and I thought it was clear we were working on our own overall game than actually adapting to the opposition. Had it been a crucial match I think we’d have adapted and beat them with a bit to spare

    Jeez lads I’d love to share some of your optimism- a bizarre 40% (!!!!). Wishful thinking probably- put it this way 40% wouldn’t fancy Tyrone to beat ourselves, and we’re on the same level as kerry.

    If Tyrone do the unthinkable I fully believe we’re watching the AI final next Sunday.

  5. When I look at Kerry they are much pacier and more physical all over the pitch. The blanket is not as effective in Croke Park. There is no comparison between the benches. Kerry I think quite comfortable, by 10+

  6. Kerry almost broke down the ultimate blanket in 2012 against Donegal. That was with an inferior forward line- JOD was just a pup, donaghy had an appalling year, Galvin/DOS were coming to the end, only Gooch really took it to them

    And this Tyrone team doesn’t hold a candle to that Donegal side. Kerry have a clear edge in midfield too

    10 points would not shock me one iota either

    I really hope I’m very wrong, I’d be absolutely over the moon if Tyrone snuck it

  7. Tyrone will make it as difficult as they can but they just don’t have enough quality themselves to win the game.

    Kerry by 6/7 points in the end.

  8. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyrone gave Kerry a good game on Sunday. I fancy Tyrone if coming into the last 10 mins the game is still in the melting pot. People forget, with all the focus on Tyrone’s mass defence that they have a few handy forwards. There is no pressure on them either and they will have there tails up following the slating they received after the 1/4 final. It’ll be interesting too see if Kerry go with just one of Gooch and Star or go with both of them

  9. Love the concept Anne-Marie. Maybe if the one that wins was given a strong laxative in their drinks before the final?? Could work.!!! Would change their focus and deplete their energy. 😉

  10. Personally, Id like to see Kerry give them a serious hiding. That could work in the favour of whoever meets them in the final, and also, tyrone are due one in my book.

  11. Have to agree with TheMaestro on this one.Tyrone have now become a “dirty” team. They are known for sledging already. Not one of them could shut their mouths the last day and then, etc, etc.. What message does that send out to a new generation who will copy their behaviour? Mickey Harte is 100% responsible for stopping this. Here he is saying the nice young man McCann is, instead of saying sorry and it won’t happen again.
    Tiernan McCann needs to be made an example of, not just for punishment, but to show others the price they will pay if they dive. This is creeping into the game now, James O’Donoghue, for example, those are young players, and it will be copied. If the other players and the manager see them getting an 8 weeks ban, they will soon be told, at source, to cut it out!!

  12. O’Donoughue is not near 100% with his shoulder injury so if he does play against Tyrone he will be a bit of a passenger like Cillian was in 2013. Geaney looks looks he is injured as well and Gooch , no more than Andy Moran did , will struggle to hit top form in the tight spaces of an All Ireland semi while recovering from his knee injury.So that leaves BJ Keane , Darren O’Sullivan and Donaghy having to find some serious form to pick up the slack in this match.

    In the half forwards O’Brien will struggle if he starts and Walsh will work hard , tackle and foul but won’t cause much damage against a blanket defence so I think Fitzmaurice will have to give serious consideration to starting one of Buckley/Galvin to get down and dirty in what will be a crowded middle third. Sheehan should start for his long range point and free taking ability which will be vital against Tyrone but he won’t thrive in a dour defensive game in open play so a slight advantage to Tyrone here again in my opinion.

    Midfield with Maher and Moran is where Kerry have the best chance to rain supreme and put away Tyrone early doors. If the can dominate here and work space to allow Moran to play the diagonal ball into Donaghy and Gooch it could lead to a comfortable day for the Kingdom. Personally I don’t see this happening as Tyrone have played without an orthodox midfield for 10 years and still won All Irelands so I think they will jam up the Kerrymen here and turn it into a brawl around the middle.

    The Kerry backs as we showed last year are terrible against a running attack and the speed with which Tyrone break through Peter Harte and Tiernan McCann will do damage and they are excellent foot passers too so the can go direct into Cavanagh , McCurry et al. if needs be to keep Kerry guessing. Lastly the biggest thing in this matchup is the genuine fear that Kerry have of Tyrone in Croker which will see them tighten up a good bit should the game be in the balance!!!! Remember Down beating them in 2010!!!!

    Tyrone by 2 is my prediction as long as they concede no more than one goal in this game.

  13. Lot of assumptions there I think about the Kerry forwards. Like there’s no evidence O’Brien will “struggle” is there? He was outstanding v Kildare. How do we know JOD will be a “passenger”. And DOS doesn’t really need to find form, he was one of the best players v Tyrone

    I love Andy, but he’s completely incomparable to Gooch, who is maybe the best footballer of the modern era. Would not shock me one ounce if he gave an exhibition the next day

    I’d be fully amazed if kerry had any fear coming into this one with respect, they know that this Tyrone team is a shadow of the noughties side

  14. Tyrone have a better chance than anyone gave Donegal last year so you never know. Tyrone don’t have inferior complex against Kerry as we have seen before

  15. I think it’s a little unfair to describe Kerry’s All-Ireland last year as soft. They came through (luckily in my opinion) two titanic games against us and dismissed the conquerors of the Dubs in the final. I would argue their two wins against us in ’04 and ’06 were infinitely easier.

    Back to us – I was talking to a Kerry buck at work yesterday about how they would fare and we got to last year. He reckoned they were haunted to get a draw in the first game but we’re deserving winners of the replay. Seemed to forget there was extra time. And they on,y won by a point. And our two best players were concussed/opened with a cut. And the ref conjured penalties from thin air.

    You’re right Anne-Marie – that match on Sunday represents a battle of the axis of evil!

  16. If it’s a draw will the replay be back at hq,maybe the gaelic grounds again,that’s a neutral venue,right…

  17. No that will be the final . Hard to see anyone but kerry prevailing in this in counter.

  18. Despite Cork giving Kerry a test in the second half of their drawn game, Kerry for me are a little untested whereas Tyrone have hauled themselves through a long hard road and have came out of it a very fresh and rejuvenated team so for my money I would be calling it a draw this week. And yes there is no way in hell Tyrone would accept a replay in Kerry’s back garden regardless of whether or not Croker is handed over to Penn State or the likes this year!

  19. I don’t mean soft as in they beat no-one but they couldn’t have had much more luck tbh and didn’t have to face the real juggernaut which was Dublin.

    I’ve lost count of how many important decisions went against us in the replay (and we played most of the first match with 14 men after a daft sending off), while Donegal played like a junior B team in the final. In my lifetime I’d have them down as the worst All Ireland winners since possibly 97 (sorry guys) when pretty much one man won it for them

    They won’t care a jot (I’d take an All Ireland if it meant beating New York in the final with a dubious last minute penalty at this stage) but in my view they were no way the best team in Ireland last year

    Now in fairness they look to have improved this year and have the Gooch back plus an improved O’Brien and darran O’Sullivan as well as Moran who has- if possible- raised his own level from last year, but when I look back at our own near misses, last year hurts the most by a mile as there was a handy enough All Ireland to be won when Dublin focked up

    I’m confident though that will drive the lads on this year though and it would be insanely sweet to turn those lads over in the final

  20. Would love to see Tyrone beat them, but don’t think they’ve any chance. Sheehan will crucify them with frees. I can’t see a goal in this game, think it will be a point fest with kerry running out 19-12 winners.

  21. Kerry will win this.tyrone have some good young footballers but they not at a level for competing for an all Ireland yet.they bet a very poor Monaghan team that haven’t beaten a decent team Apart from Donegal.Dublin destroyed them last year in championship.to me Monaghan are totally over rated and slit there good players are coming end of there careers.this will be a dull boring spectacle to watch no doubt Tyrone will have 15 behind the ball pure utter dog puke football.to me there’s 3 teams way ahead of the rest Kerry Dublin Mayo in no particular order and there’s only a kick of the ball between them on any given day and luck may play a huge part!

  22. Would agree with Ciaran there. 1997 was the softest All Ireland won by an average side. Without checking the records i think all they had to beat was Clare, Tipperary, Cavan and ourselves in the final. We were poor enough that day and hit some shocking wides including a 21 yard free. Still only lost by 3.
    After the goings on of last year it would indeed be the sweetest result to take them out in the final this year. For now lets concentrate on them Dubs though. Can we silence the Hill?

    Eddie K. Yes if Kerry v Tyrone ends level the repay might well go to the Gaelic grounds as its bang on halfway between the 2.!!!!!!!!. Very fair all round.

  23. Mayomaningalway, I was at that match too, and remember Keith of all people, being rounded and just stood there hands on hips. Maybe it was only to console myself, but I remember saying to my friends, Mayo had no intention of winning that game. I still think that’s true,. Mayo could not possibly be that bad.They knew then , this game was on the cards.

  24. Tyrone will need to score goals to win and I don’t see them getting them. They have only scored one in all of herod championship matches this year.
    But then again it could be a draw with the replay in Castlebar
    🙂

  25. Would love to see a mayo/Kerry final, there is no way Tyrone will live with Kerry in the open spaces of croker for 70 minutes, and look at Kerry’s subs, they would get on any other county team in Ireland. Think Kerry by 10 pts if not more, then it’s the small matter of our own semi, which I believe we can just about come out on top and set it up nicely for a September shoot out against the Kingdom. We should not be one bit afraid to meet them in the final, and it will make for a much better game than having to play another blanket defence in the big one.

  26. Yes great news and very surprised by it indeed.keane be a good addition to have .we could end up neading our 6 subs and maybe a blood sub or two the next day.didnt we end up using 8 subs a few years ago including blood was it against the dubs?

  27. I’ll never forget that league game against Tyrone last spring.
    For long periods in the 2nd half the only 2 in our half of the field was our goalie and full back.Our lads didn’t expect that level of anti-football that early in the year.
    Watch them, on the opposition kick outs the two corner forewards retreat back to their own full back line.
    I wouldn’t rule out them giving Kerry a belly full on Sunday, even though they haven’t the same quality all over the field that they had in the noughties.

  28. Yes, great news regarding Keane, albeit a little surprising. If it wasn’t rescinded there would have been real concerns regarding cover for potential injuries in that area. And speaking of ’97, that nightmare scenario of having to reshuffle half the team on account of one casualty crept into my mind. If, God forbid, Caff got injured, there would be no like-for-like replacement, certainly none with any meaningful game time this year. It could have caused mayhem.

  29. Kerry the worst team to win all ireland since 1997….also kerry? A decades worth of luck last year? McCann simulation a james o donoghue impersonation? Ah lads….the mask of sanity is beginning to slip….

    …the ire seems to be reserved for the wrong team here.

  30. Cantini, your a Sligo supporter yes? Who do you want to win the AI? and who do you think will win it?…just want to see a neutrals view on the Business end of the championship.

  31. Tyrone will provide a stern test for Kerry on Sunday. They have a psychological edge on them at the business end of the championship in croke park. Half of this Kerry team are over 30 years of age(old men) in terms of the modern game. Kerry find it difficult to mix it with northern teams in championship semi finals and finals. They will not play this game on their terms, and their bodies will know that they were in a physical contest by 5pm on Sunday. It’s Tyrone for me.

  32. All the talk is about Tyrone and their cynical tactics but don’t forget kerry are one of the filthiest teams out there as we saw in Limerick. I for one would never support them. They have been doing it for years. Tadhg kennelly should have seen red for elbowing Murphy in the face in the 1st minute of an all Ireland final and then admitted in his book he did it intentionally. So for me I’m passive as to who I’d like to see get through. But I think this will be a tight game with plenty of cards

  33. Some here think that All Ireland’s are easily won,, I think that is being a little disrespectful to the young men that put their lives on hold to represent their family, Club and County at senior inter county level. All of these games are at high octane level when played and there are so many little things that can go wrong and have a massive impact on the teams aspirations.
    Think of players who on a big day make a tiny error with big consequences on the field, they have to live with the what ifs and if onlys. Then you have supporters who openly discuss how useless they are and how the hell could they have picked that clown when such a player was clearly the man for his opposite number.

    I personally have great time for what they bring to the table as amateur athletes, the sarcrafice they make and the roller coaster of emotions they endure. Being from Kerry I respect most teams and I like what Kerry bring to the table, they will not be pushed around and they learn quicker than any other team what’s required to win the game. The Northern teams pushed, pulled, dragged and goaded their way over the line with out expected sanction from the so called purer footballers on a few occasions.

    Kerry were probably better footballers than them but that didnt matter to them, they saw an angle and went fot it and i will be honest i was protesting loudly and saying WTF is going on here but you know what they were dead right, if the referee wasnt pulling them up why should they stop to allow an opposing team beat them with skill and tradition and all that shit. If you dont have the fight and fire in your belly you will struggle to defeat the best teams on the bigest days.

    if you had neutral annalysists picking holes in team performances or individual acts that cross the line (or maybe I should say cross the border) then I don’t think there is any team in the southern provinces that do anything that other teams don’t do. Before people start to pull their favourite stick out with their ace example just think if any Mayo player had done THIS DREADFUL SHAMEFUL ACT to win the final would ye complain ?? No bloody way would ye, this site would be full of Jes’ he’s an awful man but he was dead right or he did what any player would have done in the situation etc etc etc.

    It gets a little tiring with the constant “the filthiest team” or “the most cynical team”, I have seen plenty of dirty and cynical acts from players from Cork, Mayo, Dublin, Monagha etc etc, basically all the teams in division one. This isn’t ballet folks and you have to have that edge to win. If Mayo don’t have it on Sunday week they will lose and if ye win, this edge will be spoken of with pride on this very forum with words like no harm to lay down a marker or he wasn’t going to be bullied this time, and dead right. Kerry will bring it definitely on Sunday as if they don’t they will definitely loose as Tyrone are the original of the species.

    Personally I think Tyrone are getting it in the neck at the moment because of an accumulation of incidents at various age and levels of competition within the game. The dive was the green light to open up on them for all the talk of this ghastly sledging and was therefore the grain of rice that will ultimately Tipp the scales against their practices down the road in my opinion. I can’t say I particularly like them as a team but I do respect them. Their supporters can sometimes be very nasty and very ungracious in victory but every club and county has them. If your warriors can’t handle the blood they shouldn’t be on the battlefield.

    Good luck on Sunday week, should we beat Tyrone this weekend we will not fear either on the other side of the draw and we will bring blood and fire on the third Sunday and nothing less will be expected of them I can assure you,, Ciarrai Abu.

  34. Kerry by a mile I would say. I remember being bored watching that game v Monaghan. The thing is kerry seem to relish meeting and beating Tyrone. I don’t get it. Sunday will be no different I am sure. I would like to know how Tyrone feel about meeting Kerry. Could this all be a media thing or in my head stuff. I wonder?

  35. @Juan

    5 or 6 weeks ago I saw no one but Dublin winning it. I started to revise that view slightly after I saw Dublin kick just 4 points in the last 25 minutes against westmeath in the face of a blanket defence…i then thought perhaps they haven’t cracked the blanket defence approach just quite yet notwithstanding their easy win.

    When I saw Kerry against Cork the first day, I pretty much (and not for the first time) probably foolishly ruled them out….but as a Sligo man i should have known better – we were a David Kelly missed penalty away from beating them before they won AI in 2009….Kerry just don’t peak until the business end. I thought they were awesome against Kildare…and again Kildare were even worse than we were in teh Connacht final…but the fact that Gooch looked sharp and fit, that a sub like Tommy Walsh came off the bench, that they have unearthed another star in the shape of stephen O’brien makes me think they are a much better team than last year….how do they just keep churning out quality forwards? I think if James O’Donoghue was fit then I would make Kerry favourties…i’m not convinced they can get him there….he missed the league and was just getting into his stride against Kildare when knocked back again. On that basis i would keep Dublin as slight favourites. But O’ Donoghue in full flight himself is unmarkable – Higgins (best back in teh country) did as good a job as anyone could possibly do last year and he still signed off with a big contribution.

    Mayo are definitely the team that surprised me this year….I had honestly believed they woudl go backwards this year primarily due to the “how many times can you go to the well?” philosophy. But Aidan O’Shea is unmarkable, Parsons a massive plus at midfield and Diarmad O’ Connor is a definite addition. Higgiins, Keegan and Boyle as good as they ever were so no degradation there. I have said on this site before to much ire, that COC must deliver more – i think he has the ability – but personally don’t rate him as out and out marquee forward yet – capability is there but he has to tap into it if Mayo are to deliver an AI finally – otherwise i fear too much responsibility will sit on AOS shoulders. I also think Andy Moran should start against Dublin – run himself into the ground, deliver 2 or 3 points (as he consistently does) and take him off then.

    Overall my odds from here would be Dublin 5/4, Kerry 6/4, Mayo 5/2, Tyrone 7/1.

    I’ve predicted a 1-18 to 1-14 win for Dublin…but will be very pleased to be wrong and will be in attendance with a good mate from Mayo!

  36. Kerry to win easily by double figures after a tough opening 20 mins or so. Would love to get another crack at Kerry after what happened last year. But Kerry have improved immensely from last year and are surely favourites for the All Ireland now regardless who they meet there.

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