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O'Sullivan saved Kingdom's bacon after dire display

Leaving Cusack Park in Mullingar, I was a relieved man. Six points down, five minutes into the second half after David Glennon slotted home a penalty, I thought that Kerry were a beaten side.

But thanks mainly to the introduction of Darran O'Sullivan, whose brilliant goal changed the complexion of the tie, we got out of jail. And it was the difference in quality coming off the bench that I felt swung the tie in their favour.

Kerry could call on the likes of O'Sullivan and Paddy Curtin, who both significantly contributed to the great escape. Westmeath's changes failed to make the same impact and may have broken their momentum.

This performance has to be a real worry for Kingdom supporters. There was a lack of urgency in the display for long spells. Our forwards, so reliable in the past, looked out of sync and made too many poor decisions when in possession and the ball going into Colm Cooper was not nearly good enough.

The defence, with the possible exception of Eoin Brosnan, were second to most balls and beaten in a lot of 50/50 challenges. Too many Kerry players would only have got four or five out of 10.

Many of the players, who usually dig deep and make things happen, appeared to be waiting for someone else to take on the responsibility. Donnchadh Walsh and Bryan Sheehan looked rusty after long lay-offs although without Sheehan's free-taking Kerry would not have won.

There is a huge amount of work to be done if they are to turn it around and become credible All-Ireland contenders again. Without disrespecting Westmeath, Jack O'Connor will know that if his team were playing a better standard of opposition they would be out of the championship.

But credit to Westmeath. Midfielder John Heslin was incredible and my man of the match. Others like Mark McCallon and John Gaffey were outstanding while the inside line of the Glennon brothers, David and Dennis, along with Paul Sharry, had the Kerry full-back line chasing shadows. Indeed, the Kerry management deserve huge credit in making the change that saw Marc Ó Sé switched over to mark Dennis Glennon, who had been giving the isolated Killian Young a torrid afternoon. The Lakesiders fought harder for every ball and had more desire and hunger. They may also feel aggrieved by some questionable decisions by the referee that went Kerry's way.

But it must be said we have been here before. I remember vividly when Antrim, Longford and, in particular, Sligo had us on the rack in 2009 and everyone wrote Kerry off. And we all know how that turned out. The question now is, do Kerry have it within them to go to the lengths required to turn things around once again?