TÓMAS Ó SÉ doesn’t hold back when asked how he felt watching Kerry trail Dublin by 3-7 to 0-9 at half-time in their recent National League meeting in Thurles.
“I’ll tell you, I was livid,” Ó Sé says, before referencing the stage just after the break where Dublin comfortably held onto possession for a sustained period.
“You were looking around wondering where was the reaction, where’s the change-up here… At that point I was disgusted. I thought there would be a bite in it, and was getting the old fingers ready to go nuts on the phone.”
Of course, just as Kerry looked to be fading out of the contest they instead clawed their way back, outscoring Dublin 1-9 to 1-2 in the second period to secure a thrilling draw.
“It was heartening to see what they did in the second half,” Ó Sé continues. “Then the frustration comes into it and you say ‘Jesus Christ why can’t they actually do that for a full 70?’ I know it would be very hard to do for a full 70, and you have to mix it up, but where was that intent in the first half?
It’s a frustrating one with Kerry because you don’t know where you are really. They will beat most teams, but in Kerry nobody gives a… It’s not that they don’t care, they’ll go nuts if they lose to the likes of Cork, but they’ll judge everything on winning the whole thing, and call it right or wrong but that’s the way it is.”
And while Ó Sé has been encouraged by much of Kerry’s attacking play, he views the lack of consistency throughout the team, and the way Dublin were able to carve open the Kerry defence, as a concern heading into the championship, with Kerry due to begin their Munster campaign against Clare in Killarney on 26 June.
“They had chances to win and lose it (against Dublin). You have to look at the balance of the whole game and… it is hard to trust them at times, is what I am saying.
“It is hard to trust Kerry, you go up against Clare, and people will probably look at this as ‘yerrah’ comment, but the reason Kerry did not really lose – in our time anyway – you could ignore the talk outside and you take the game so seriously that you would be going there with a bit of fear that you would lose and what would happen because of the backlash that would be there, but I don’t think there is the same fear about this Kerry team.
David Clifford has been in superb form for Kerry.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“You could still ask questions about them, you still can’t trust them that they would not blow certain teams that they should be blowing out of the water, or beating them convincingly. Like, Clare will fancy having a good rattle at Kerry, and I am not saying that is not right, but when you see what happened to Kerry against Cork last year (in the championship) and see what happened against Dublin in the league…
“Even when Kerry had the foot in the door against Dublin in the drawn All-Ireland final (2019) and how they could not finish it off, with the Kerry management and players there would be question marks still. That is the downside.”
Having comfortably beaten Roscommon last Sunday, Kerry are back in action with a league semi-final date against Tyrone on 12 June, a few hours before Donegal and Dublin do battle in the other last-four tie.
One of the quirks of this condensed GAA season means a win for either Donegal or Kerry would result in no Division 1 final being played, in order to allow those counties take a two-week break between the end of the league and the start of the championship.
The same caveat applies for Divisions 2, 3 and 4, raising the strong possibility that all four divisions could end with no champions being crowned.
“If you have a competition, you want to have a final,” Ó Sé says.
“To a certain degree it does undermine the whole thing. But at the same time then, you have a free weekend this week, there are injuries happening all around us, do you play this weekend?
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“I think if you threw it out to players and management they’d probably go with what you have right now, and go with the fact that you’ll have a two-week build in (to the Championship). There’s no way that teams or managers would accept a week of a build up, to have Ulster championship the following week or Munster championship, whatever it is.
“You kind of accept that, but at the same time you’re thinking, ‘Is there any way they could have done it that they could have got the final in there?’
“Like, I’d say you’re kind of taking the steam out of it if you play it further along the line, after a Championship or something like that. They probably would have had to put the whole Championship back a week if they were to eat into club time at the other side of it, then you’d be causing…
“I’d be quick trying to find holes in it, but I’d be pretty sure they did it to the best that they could possibly do it and hope then that it fell their way in terms of (the fixtures)…but the chances are now that there won’t be finals in three of them (leagues).”
Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé was speaking at the launch of the Allianz League Legends series in Dublin. This year marks the 29th season that Allianz has sponsored the competition, making it one of the longest sponsorships in Irish sport.
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