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The bluffer’s guide to the Kerry footballers

Sport

MANAGER Éamonn Fitzmauriceis now in his fifth season as Kerry boss.

Ger Flanagan

How did they get here?
IN stark contrast to Mayo, Kerry’s road to the semi-final has smooth and without any major incident.
They dismantled Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final without ever threatening to hit top gear, winning on a scoreline of 1-18 to 0-13. That result rubbished any notions that the four-week gap since the Munster final might bring some complacency into play or otherwise affect them.
Paul Geaney, an All Star in 2016, ran riot in the Munster final, scoring 1-5 and helping his side breeze past Cork by 1-23 to 0-15.
Clare did provide a stiff test for large parts of the Munster semi-final against a 14-man Kerry after the sending-off in the 33rd minute of Donnacha Walsh, but there was little arguing the 1-18 to 1-12 final score.

What’s the mood down there?
CONFIDENT. But then, when are they not?
Beating Dublin by the narrowest of margins in this year’s National Football League final was a huge fillip in that they overcame the mental block that the Dubs have held over them in recent times.
The relative ease of their passage through Munster means they can work with a view to peaking for the All-Ireland semi-final and final, so they will feel the best is yet to come.

Who’s in the management team?
ÉAMONN Fitzmaurice is currently in his fifth season as Kerry senior footballer manager having first been appointed in 2013. This year, he has drafted in Kerry legend Maurice Fitzgerald as a selector, replacing the outgoing Diarmuid Murphy.
He also has All-Ireland winners Mikey Sheehy and Liam Hassett (who captained Kerry against Mayo in 1997) working alongside him.

Who have they got?
MAYO need little reminding of what the likes of Kieran Donaghy and James O’Donoghue can do on their day in the full-forward line, but now they have the task of trying to tie down Paul Geaney too.
In David Moran, they have a powerful, rangy midfielder, and in the half-back line, Paul Murphy and Peter Crowley can play going both ways.
Youngsters Jack Barry and Jack Savage have been shining lights and are very highly regarded down south.

Can they beat Mayo?
MAYO came up trumps in the latest encounter between these two football giants in Tralee in the NFL earlier this year, and they have beaten Kerry in the league five times in the past seven meetings.
But Kerry hold a championship edge over Mayo.
The Kerry defence looked shaky against Galway and was exploited on numerous occasions, similar to the Munster final, which bodes well for Mayo after their free-scoring, direct running approach to Roscommon. But much will come down to how well the Kerry inside line perform against Mayo’s full-back line.
On paper at least, it makes for a fascinating duel.

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