Posted by Shane Stapleton
Wednesday 30 May 2012
Looking back at Kerry's defeat of Tipperary, there were signs of ageing but that was only skin deep as the facts show
Joe Brolly crinkled his nose on Sunday, everything was as it should be; Kerry’s older guard started to look a little wrinkled, not quite as it should be.
Not as it really is. Paul Galvin came off early enough - on 46 minutes - looking as ragged as he was rugged. He hit a few errant balls on the day but he was moving well, covering ground, and when the football matters a bit more, you’d expect him to be first there and best-dressed.
The RTÉ commentary suggested Colm Cooper was having a subdued afternoon and while it’s true that Ciaran McDonald was giving him “lots of it”, Gooch’s influence remained. Any day your corner-forward scores 0-4 (0-2f) and sets up another four scoring chances is not one to be dismissed. The luxury for Kerry is the mindset of thinking he had an off day.
In the overall scheme of things, the team probably did. Though as we’ve seen in the past, the great teams only really produce when it matters: be that provincial finals or the latter stages of the All-Ireland series.
Days when your Marc O’Sés, Kieran Donaghys, Declan O’Sullivans, Galvins and most importantly Coopers excel the most.
Tipperary certainly made a game of it but there was always a sense that the Kingdom, while undoubtedly the kings, were ruling with a laissez-faire approach. Only taxing the Tipp goals when needed.
They were quite wasteful though, despite accruing 16 points. In total there were 37 chances created by Kerry but they only put away 43%.
In terms of open play scores, of which they got nine, that figure was down to 33%; no harm to have Bryan Sheehan and Gooch putting away seven of the 10 scoreable placed balls for the Kingdom.
Kerry were in their comfort zone but credit to Tipp for staying within range and certainly respectability - particularly after double-digit defeats in recent seasons - as they were at times out of their comfort zone in the first half.
The kick-outs were very problematic for the Premier County because of an unwillingness to press the man whenever Brendan Kealy pinged one out. Of Kerry’s nine first-half kickouts, Tipp won just won and that ended in a scoring opportunity for Michael Quinlivan.
The Premier changed their tune after the break and won six of Kerry’s ten - a more aggressive approach stood to them, rather than standing off as in the opening period.
Looking at the effect of the first half kickouts from a more overall perspective, it was very costly for Tipp. Kerry went from being level at 0-4 each in the 23rd minute to 0-8 to 0-4 ahead four minutes later simply by turning over the home side’s restarts and cashing in.
That happened three times with Kieran O’Leary (who was also created three chances in the first half), Anthony Maher and Gooch all on the mark. The other score came when Darran O’Sullivan came short for a Kerry kickout, turned Robbie Costigan and made a dash towards goal.
So by allowing Kerry to dominate the kickout - which can’t always be helped - Tipp gave up so much of the momentum. When the Premier finally pushed back in this regard just before half-time, when winning their only Kerry kickout of the half, Brian Fox won a free for Quinlivan to convert. The question is whether Tipp had been showing the opposition too much respect.
It’s a double-edged sword though because had Tipp pushed out and committed to the tackle, it may well have left them exposed and open to goals as in previous years.
Kerry will create scores in any case so it’s understandable that Tipp kept some measure of caution. When they did attack, Alan Moloney, Philip Austin and Peter Acheson caused trouble. That the team put together just five points from play would be a disappointment for manager Peter Creedon.
There was some criticism of Tipp overplaying the ball on Sunday. Marty Morrissey felt the were holding onto it too long without getting an effort away while Kevin McStay admonished them for hitting easy chances wide.
Well the truth is that you don’t get these good chances without working the ball, and you can’t give out to a man for putting the ball wide if he has the cajones to take it on in the first place.
The point is that the methodical build-up play did enough to leave Kerry exposed to open shots at their posts - that may not be the case in matches that mean more to them, but it’s not every team that manages that in the first place.
Same for Kerry, they hit just 16 points but they created enough to score 20-plus. A figure that would win on a lot of days. It’s not every game that Anthony Maher will hit two long balls out on the full and another our over the sideline - successful counties tend to be most focus on the big days.
Whereas this was a day to get through without any huge hassle. Leave the fussin’ to Brolly.
Chat to Shane Stapleton on Twitter @shanesaint
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