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Sideline strategy crucial in Kerry-Mayo game

The key tactical battles

Sideline strategy proved crucial during the game

Edwin McGreal

Mayo’s sweeper
KNOCKMORE’S Kevin McLoughlin saw very little ball in the role he played in the first half but the ploy worked for two reasons.
Firstly, Kerry weren’t able to play low ball into Cooper and company and, secondly, it was an assurance for the likes of Cafferkey and Cunniffe that they had support.
It also allowed Donal Vaughan to push forward from centre-half back to considerable effect. Crucially, though, Mayo needed to be leading at half-time to justify persisting with it. When they weren’t, McLoughlin went back to an orthodox ten and Kerry prospered in the space left. That was a significant turning point.

The match-ups
as a lot of the Mayo players said afterwards, Kerry are hard to contain because if you stop one or two of their forwards, others can step into the breach.
Darran and Declan O’Sullivan were their form forwards this year and Mayo’s history with Kieran Donaghy hasn’t been great either. But Ger Cafferkey got the better of Donaghy, Vaughan sidelined Declan O’Sullivan, and Keith Higgins did reasonably well on Darran O’Sullivan.
But then there was the Gooch. Croke Park is, said Jack O’Connor afterwards, his ‘theatre’ and while Tom Cunniffe struggled, could any of the other Mayo defenders have lived with him?

Forward switches
FOR the past three games, Andy Moran has started at 12 and moved into 14, for considerable stretches against Cork and Kerry. Each time the hope was that Alan Freeman would find his form first before making a necessary switch.
On Sunday, Freeman’s play lacked conviction and the switch was made after fifteen minutes. There’s little doubt Moran has excelled inside and he gave Marc Ó Se plenty of it but didn’t take any of the three goal chances he created.
The Ballagh’ star will feel he probably should have had a greater return than 0-2 while Freeman will reflect over the winter on the need to find his best form.

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