Connect with us

Sport

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Munster now a non-event

Published

on

Eamonn Fitzgerald gives his assessment of last Saturday’s football action, which included facile wins for Kerry and Dublin

Kerry learned little they didn’t know already after a leisurely stroll in The Park on Sunday, leaving a hopelessly outclassed Limerick side trailing in their wake in yet another one-sided Munster SFC final. 1-28 to 0-8 tells its own story and Kerry could have stuck in a few more goals.

That’s a whopping 23 points defeat. Last year was quite similar. Same venue, different opposition with Cork in 2021. The Rebels suffered their biggest ever defeat to Kerry in a Munster final, losing by 22 points.

And the point of it all is that the Munster SFC is a non-event as a competitive fixture, even if the social aspect is much to be admired. Only one team stands up to challenge for the Sam Maguire.

Ditto in Leinster where Dublin won their 12th Leinster SFC title in a row, defeating Kildare by 5-17 to 1-16. They struck early and often, rattling the net five times in that opening period. Out of 14 shots at the Kildare goals in the first half, they scored 12 times. That is an unbelievable return and yet they will be consigned to Division 2 football next season. All rumours as to their demise are just that, though; the Dublin Blues are out of the blues.

It only took a few minutes at Croke Park to show they’re back in business. Talisman Con O’Callaghan is back and he showed why he was missed throughout the league. He is the axis of the Dessie Farrell bid to get out of the shadows of Jim Gavin.

EARLY AND OFTEN

Dublin’s goals came early and often, exposing Glenn Ryan’s defence as porous. Five goals and the game was still in its infancy. Let’s concentrate on just one goal, the first. The move started at the Cusack Stand side beyond midfield. No great danger for Kildare - yet. Ciarán Kilkenny is the bones of 85 yards from goal. He has a designated marker, but where is the Lilywhite when the tide begins to turn? He is going outfield while Kilkenny takes off without the ball. The delivery was swift and accurate into the danger zone. Still no danger of a goal. Dublin have a lot to do, but they do it. Bang. The give-and-go ploy worked. How often have we seen that before as Dublin steamrolled ahead to the six-in-a-row?

Start at home. It cost Kerry two All-Irelands. The standout one was when that great servant of Kerry, David Moran, failed to collect a ball at midfield. In nipped Eoin Murchan, a small guy in defence and surely no danger of scoring from his allotted position, but he has a turbo engine and the pitiful sight for Kerry was this ‘garsún’ sprinting through the middle and poor David Moran trying desperately hard to get back in-house before the cake of bread was burned to a cinder. Shades of Paddy Cullen and Mikey Sheehy, except the Dubs had the last laugh on this one.

For all of those six All-Irelands, Dublin’s trademark goal-scoring tactic never wavered. Win possession deep in your own defence. Hold possession with close inter-passing laterally working your way up the wing, gaining valuable yards all the time. The opposition can’t even lay hand on a Dub because they are there in numbers. Patience is their virtue until the right moment arrives. Cue the Dubs possessor to up the pace as the opposition scrambles to get close, totally unaware and unable to do anything about the other Dub backing up the man in possession. “Coming off the shoulder” is the new fancy name for this ploy.

He switches into the centre and he has two choices on how to deliver the goal. Any of the three inside forwards will make a run creating space, or best of all the full forward will sprint out in front of the full back. Give and go. Kilkenny will score after his long journey, or take your pick of O’Callaghan, Costello et al. 

Dublin have done it to Kerry and more recently Cork did the same at Fitzgerald Stadium in the 2021 Munster final before that first water break. That is one area of leakage of Kerry goals which has been addressed successfully so far by Jack O’Connor.

Tadhg Morley has grabbed his opportunity to make the number 6 geansaí his own in the absence of the rehabbing Mike Breen. He is closing off the centre very effectively and no one gets through unimpeded. He has done very well. No doubt the drier summer ground will test him, but his closing of the ‘bearna baol’ will be crucial as the championship evolves.

The successes of Morley at 6 and Jason Foley at 3 are the real reason that Kerry have only conceded one goal this year. Foley is coming good. He is a fine athlete, has plenty of pace and now has the confidence to sprint out ahead of his full forward to win possession, knowing that the backs around him are doing their primary job. That means marking their own man and providing the necessary cover to break the attacking chain and/or be ready to pounce for the broken ball. Be first to react to that spillage is crucial.

GOALKEEPER’S VISION

Goalkeeper Shane Ryan has a key role to play in these situations. He needs to see the potential danger once the ball enters his half of the field. He will be the first player to see the danger of a goal and be it Kilkenny, Murchan, Costello, or that half-Spa man, the majestic Brian Fenton. Don’t rule out the northern teams either.

Ryan can call the play before the shots are unleashed. No goal opportunities. A point at worst.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

News

Rising cycling star selected for Belgium Project

By Sean Moriarty Killarney cyclist Sam Bolger (18) has been selected as one of four riders for the Belgian Project – one of the most prestigious stepping stones for Irish riders […]

Published

on

0233320_02258800225880277589165453121253235972316949195456370924n.jpg

By Sean Moriarty

Killarney cyclist Sam Bolger (18) has been selected as one of four riders for the Belgian Project – one of the most prestigious stepping stones for Irish riders with ambitions to turn professional.

Northern Ireland-based Belgian Danny Blondell is the man behind the project.

For the last 15 years Blondell selects between four and six Irish riders and sends them to Belgium where they stay with local families and contest pro and semi-pro races.

As a race commentator Blondell is well placed to decide who is deserving of inclusion in the project.

Over the first six months of the year he makes decisions while attending early season races.

Those lucky enough to get selected go to live and race in Belgium for the second six months of the year.

Bolger, from Lewis Road, was selected after winning the junior race in the Cycling Ireland National Road Series in Mayo in March and the Orwell Stage Race in County Wicklow in June.

“He is delighted, it is a very big deal,” his father Paul told the Killarney Advertiser.

“He has had a very good year and the wins in Mayo and Wicklow secured the Belgium Project.”

Bolger will head to Belgium in late July and after to the Junior Tour of Ireland which takes place in County Clare between July 12 and 17.

Continue Reading

Sport

The flying Kerryman who never forgot where he came from

Published

on

by Eamonn Fitzgerald

Tom O’Riordan RIP

Tommo (as he was affectionately known) died last week at the grand age of 84. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s for a number of years but the Ardfert native was as resilient in the face of his illness as he was when he was running.

He succeeded on many occasions in track and cross country races in Ireland and far afield, and he dealt with that health hurdle with typical stoicism, accepting the irony of his doctor’s prognosis: Parkinson’s won’t kill you but you will die from it.

I first met him in Belfield in the early seventies. While we were training hard with UCD football team he was on a training spin on the same campus.

His competitive career was over having represented Ireland in the 1964 Olympics. He didn’t make the final and he always said in later life that he was disappointed he didn’t make it because he knew he was good enough.

After those Olympics he was appointed as athletics reporter for the Independent. He also covered a lot of football matches and that’s where I got to know him. He was highly respected by players and managers. They trusted him, knowing that he wouldn’t betray confidentiality and publish half-truths or training session secrets. In particular, Mick O’Dwyer gave him carte blanche to the Kerry training sessions. He became a great friend of Páid Ó Sė, who was a regular visitor to his home in Dublin. I have no doubt that he convinced Páidí to use some of those merciless runs up hills to build stamina. Ask the Westmeath men! Tom used these quite a lot in his training for cross-country races.

Heffo didn’t give him the same open-door policy as O’Dwyer did. At Parnell Park, the Dub’s boss operated a closed-doors system for the Dublin training sessions.

Tommo first hit the headlines as a student in his native Kerry and then secured an athletic scholarship to  Idaho University. He impressed, winning races in the majority of the US states.

He was a winner in Ireland on track and cross country, breaking at least 14 Irish records.             

He was very influential as manager of the Irish  cross country team in Limerick preparing John Treacy for victory. They became great personal friends and Treacy often stayed with O’Riordan.

He was a fine journalist and stories abound of him running and double jobbing by covering the particular race for the Indo. More often than not he was writing about a race where he was the winner but he was anything but a self publicist.

He had deadlines to meet so he would create the report and then seek out the nearest telephone to file his report while still wearing his running gear. His son Ian O’Riordan is also a very fine reporter of athletics for the Irish Times.

May Tommo rest in peace.

Continue Reading

Trending