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Legends Cooper and Goggins sure Kerry can go to a new level

All action: Kerry’s David Clifford and Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons battle it out two weeks ago in the drawn All-Ireland final at Croke Park in Dublin
All action: Kerry’s David Clifford and Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons battle it out two weeks ago in the drawn All-Ireland final at Croke Park in Dublin
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

An All-Ireland final, but not as we have come to know them.

Tonight's game comes with almost a virtual absence of hype. A drawn game and a replay should have a built-in element of tension, especially after the manner of the first game.

That it doesn't is down in some ways to the pitiful lack of access to players and management. Surely a quick press event could have allowed the media access to hear the thoughts of the protagonists ahead of the replay, but instead we have to make do with in-house media organs and the absence of a pundit becomes the main talking point.

In such straitened times, you have to keep the ear to the ground for revelatory talk. As it happened, Colm Cooper and Coman Goggins, talking in the AIB GAA Podcast, gave plenty.

The prevailing thought that Kerry missed the boat was tackled by Cooper, who said: "No, I don't think so. They certainly had their chance and should have won the match.

"Kerry have a lot of quality in the team - I know there are a lot of young players there and that's why I think the second time around they should be even more comfortable in Croke Park."

He continued: "If you had said David Clifford, Paul Geaney and Stephen O'Brien wouldn't be the chief scorers for Kerry, the Dubs would have bit your arm off for that before the game. So there's improvement in those guys, and I think that's what Kerry are feeling. They coped well.

"The big questions for Kerry the last day were how would they cope with Con O'Callaghan and Paul Mannion? They did pretty well, as well as any team over the past number of years. That's why people are so encouraged, and it's leading into the match, where people think Dublin will improve, but I think there's another 10% in Kerry as well."

He also came up with a novel theory on the attacking threat of Jack McCaffrey, who hit 1-3 from wing-back.

"I think Dublin going down to 14 men suited McCaffrey because the Kerry guys were puzzled and passed him on, saying 'you pick him up', and it took away the accountability and responsibility of guys - and you can't do that with Jack McCaffrey," he said.

"He's in a league of his own in terms of how he attacks; Ryan McHugh is a good player but he doesn't have the same scoring potential. What I would like Kerry and Peter Keane to do is: whoever is picking up Jack McCaffrey, your focus is solely on him, and don't worry about what's going on around you."

Goggins is predicting a Dublin win, feeling if they can keep themselves right, they will have enough at the second attempt tonight.

But it's not all plain sailing. For everyone stating that Kerry have missed the boat, the opposite is true that players such as Clifford and Sean O'Shea have now played in front of a full house on the biggest day of Irish sport and, as comfortably as they performed the last day, can go even higher.

"Kerry have got at them now, they've developed their own belief and feel they can match them (Dublin) now," he stated.

"Fine margins across the teams - can you expect all 15 to perform, can you expect Jack McCaffrey to get 1-3? Probably not. There are tiny margins for lads to play well - both teams will look to improve and keep 15 on the field.

"Dublin will still believe, but Kerry are thinking 'we've lived with these guys, asked questions, and we left 2-4 behind us in the first half arguably'. So they feel they can challenge Dublin, and Dublin need to come up with answers for players to get better."

Belfast Telegraph


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