Friday 19 January 2018

Kingdom 'can't afford to have an off day defensively'

Former Dublin footballer Barry Cahill
Former Dublin footballer Barry Cahill
Former Kerry footballer Declan O’Sullivan

To predict Dublin to make this year's All-Ireland final wasn't exactly to stretch the boundaries of probability but perhaps the catalysts of the achievement are in some ways unexpected.

With four All Stars in-a-row, Paul Flynn's contribution has been so consistently excellent, it's a wonder Dublin still exist in the Championship when he's not in the shakeup for a fifth while Michael Darragh Macauley has struggled with fitness, form and an ability to convince Jim Gavin to start him always.

Yet you wouldn't put it past either player to be the difference for Dublin tomorrow were they to lift Sam Maguire for a third time in five years.

"It was always going to be difficult for Paul this year coming on the back of four All Stars, people are comparing him to such a high standard," says his former Dublin team-mate, Barry Cahill.


"Paul starting working properly for the first time this year so that may have had an effect on him.

"Also the role he is playing is more defensive. He's back winning a lot of breaks and was in his half-back line a bit more but on the first day against Mayo he delivered a lot of great ball in the first half.

"For Michael Darragh," he continues, "it's been an up and down season.

"I was chatting to him recently and he feels he's in the best shape of his life.

"He had a good break earlier in the year during the league but the first day against Mayo didn't go that well for him but the last 20 to 25 minutes in the replay, he was excellent."

Encouragingly for Dublin, others have taken the slack.

"You cannot afford to concentrate on just two or three of the Dublin forwards which is a problem," says Declan O'Sullivan from a very Kerry-centric viewpoint.

"You really have to play close attention to all of them.

"The likes of Ciarán Kilkenny and Paddy Andrews were seen as the lesser lights but now after their performances against Mayo in the last couple of games means Kerry will have to keep a close eye on them."

Whether that means éamonn Fitzmaurice has to redraw his plans, we'll only know tomorrow.

All these being equal, Shane Enright should mark Bernard Brogan.

Peter Crowley looks a good fit for Paul Flynn. Ditto Killian Young on Diarmuid Connolly.

"Paul Flynn has been a bit quieter but it will be very interesting to see how éamonn goes about it," O'Sullivan states.

"Of course Marc Ó Sé has great experience in marking Bernard Brogan and that would be a fantastic battle if it did happen." (O Sé is not named in Kerry's starting 15).

"I think that somebody like Killian Young could go toe-to-toe with Diarmuid Connolly and maybe Peter Crowley on Paul Flynn.

"I think that Kerry can get the match-ups right but as I said, before you can't rely on individual defending anymore, it has to be system.

"So the big thing now for Kerry is they have to get their defensive system right, get their match-ups right," he added.

"You can't have an off day against them defensively," O'Sullivan concluded.

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