Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Donaghy fears Dublin clash 'coming too soon' for Kerry

Kieran Donaghy has mixed feelings about Kerry's NFL game against Dublin
Kieran Donaghy has mixed feelings about Kerry's NFL game against Dublin

The cynics would say the fixtures machine was suspiciously kind to the league's marketing gurus.

The draw paired Dublin with Kerry on the opening weekend of the National Football League, handing us the earliest possible repeat of September's epic All-Ireland final. Setanta Sports quickly announced plans to show the match live, and the successful Spring Series was given a significant shot in the arm.



However, it is a fixture Kieran Donaghy has mixed feelings about. The Kerry forward wants another crack at Dublin but wonders if it's a little early to be renewing hostilities.



"I don't know if it's ideal, it might be a bit too soon," he said.



At this time of year, there is little in the way of form to go by. Kerry opted out of the McGrath Cup, and only sketchy details have emerged of their tour of the challenge game circuit -- where they have faced the likes of Offaly and Wexford.



But then, this Kingdom side are well established. They lost just three games last season, each of them by a point, but despite that Donaghy insists 2011 must go down as a failure because, he says, "second place is no good" in Kerry.



"The ones you lose stay with you for maybe a bit longer," he said.



"You're kind of on a rollercoaster after you win it -- whatever comes your way is easy to accept. But after you lose, it makes it that bit harder to deal with even small things. You're a bit down in yourself and as a group."



The "group" has stayed largely the same. Last season saw Jack O'Connor perform some necessary patchwork, with Bryan Sheehan moving from corner-forward to midfield, while Eoin Brosnan was coaxed out of retirement to play in the No 6 jersey.



And while Donaghy agrees that Dublin boasted deeper reserves in crucial areas in the All-Ireland final, he is confident Kerry's young guns can stand up and be counted this year.



"We've lost six of the team that won the All-Ireland in 2009, so we're going to have to shuffle some kind of deck," he said. "There's a reason why we keep getting back to finals. These players are good players and if you have to reshuffle, then you have to reshuffle.



"We've got a nice few young guys coming in that will get a run in the league and, based on their performances there, it'll determine whether they're good enough to start in the championship.



"As regards shuffling players around, you've got to go on what you see and Eoin Brosnan was playing great football for Dr Crokes at centre-back, so why not try him with Kerry at centre-back? He had a very good year for us last year and is playing unbelievable football this year for Dr Crokes in the same position.



"With Bryan Sheehan and Anthony Maher, it was basically their first year together, but I think they had a very good year. Seamus Scanlon's illness last year had a big impact -- we didn't have him to come on to freshen things up around there at times.



"Dublin brought on Eamon Fennell and brought on big guys around the middle and we were just lacking a small bit around there."



Donaghy has glanced at the video of the All-Ireland final, but it hasn't amounted to much more than that -- "You'd be depressing yourself if you kept looking at that game," he said.



But as a fan of American football, he sees ways in which officials might have benefited from video technology in dealing with some of the controversial incidents in the decider. He suggests video replays -- similar to those used in gridiron and tennis -- could have a role to play, particularly in the high-stakes games played at HQ.



"The frees happen, but when you miss clear-cut things, like fellas picking the ball off the ground, and when someone hops the ball twice on your own '45' with a minute to go, that should be a free and Bryan Sheehan should be putting us up a point. That's the one that might gall you a bit, but the rest of the decisions, you have to live with them. Sometimes they go with you and sometimes they go against you.



"But the GAA have put so much into making Croke Park into one of the best arenas in the world, why not use technology? I am sure that it would be exciting for fans.



"You see it in tennis as they wait to see whether the ball is out, you see the excitement and the clapping, people waiting for the call. I see so many advantages and so little disadvantages, but it is hard to move these things forward through Congress."

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