Kerry must raise their standards to reach final
Published 24/08/2007 | 09:36
When Kerry just managed to overcome Monaghan by a solitary point in a drama-laden Bank of Ireland All Ireland Football championship quarter-final earlier this month, Dublin immediately became most peoples' favourites to lift the Sam Maguire Cup.
And that suited wily Kerry down to the ground.
In the immediate aftermath of their scare against Monaghan, the Kingdom players themselves were talking up the Dubs.
But, of course, Kerry are past masters of spin.
When Pat O'Shea's side take the field against Paul Caffrey's warriors for Sunday's semi-final, they will do so armed with the knowledge that they need to scale new heights if they are to book an All Ireland final meeting with their neighbours Cork, the side they defeated to land the Munster title.
O'Shea himself is among those who believe that Dublin are in pole position to be crowned champions - at least, that's what he says!
"They have shown consistency and scoring power so far, " maintained the Kerry boss.
But the Kingdom side that laboured for long spells against fired-up Monaghan certainly absorbed some lessons from that game.
And one of these is that a sustained all-out assault is required from midfield if they are to put pressure on the metropolitan side.
In this respect, Dara O Sé will have a key role and assuming he does his primary duty of providing ammunition for his attack, then Colm Cooper, Mike Frank Russell and Kieran Donaghy will be expected to provide a rather more handsome return than they did against Seamus McEnaney's side.
Dublin boss Caffrey watched his side ease Derry out of the All Ireland equation and then admitted: "We still have work to do on some aspects of our game."
Those aspects include an occasionally fragile defence, a tendency to take the wrong options in terms of shooting with Alan Brogan and Conal Keaney over-zealous at times and a penchant for conceding ground at midfield.
"We know that Kerry can improve on the form they showed against Monaghan, that's for sure. While we have been happy enough with our own form to date, we know that it will take a huge effort if we are to win on Sunday," said Caffrey.
Dublin are unchanged - no surprise there - but Kerry appear to have rather more options on the bench.
Against Monaghan, Bryan Sheehan, Darren O'Sullivan and Sean O'Sullivan all made a big impact when introduced with Sheehan firing over the two late points that broke Monaghan hearts. But to book their place in the decider, they will need to produce a performance that reaches a higher level than anything they have delivered this year to date.