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21st Feb 2023

Darran O’Sullivan thinks Kerry have far bigger concerns than just fitness

Niall McIntyre

Fitness is one thing. A lack of options is another.

With Sean O’Shea, David and Paudie Clifford rested, and with Paul Geaney and Stephen O’Brien out, the early rounds of the League presented the perfect platform for Kerry’s fringe players.

But Darran O’Sullivan doesn’t think any of them have done enough so far.

The likes of Micheál Burns, Dara Moynihan, Tony Brosnan and Killian Spillane have been given ‘ample opportunity’ according to O’Sullivan, but the former All-Ireland winning captain feels they’ve more to do to win the trust of manager Jack O’Connor.

The Kingdom have had a shaky start to the League, losing two out their first three games, to Donegal and Mayo respectively, and while their late team holiday has a lot to do with it, O’Sullivan feels that his former manager has bigger worries.

“Everybody knows the team were late coming back from that team holiday,” says the Glenbeigh-Glencar club-man.

“I do think with the format of the season now, that the team holiday can’t run into December/January, because you’re coming back too late and playing catch-up.

“Look, the fitness will come for Kerry, I’m not too bothered about that, but the big worry for Jack is that even though Paudie Clifford, David Clifford, Sean O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien and Paul Geaney all missed the start of the League, at the moment, they all walk straight back into that team. Fit or not fit, you throw them in.

“Diarmuid O’Connor will probably go midfield because there’s a worry there, but if it wasn’t, he’d go wing forward despite fellas getting ample opportunity in the first three games,” O’Sullivan adds.

Paudie Clifford

“That’s the biggest worry for Jack, that fellas who have been around for a while and got an opportunity to show that they can step up if David or any of them are away – but they didn’t.

“We all know they’re good footballers, but being a good footballer doesn’t cut it.

“You need to have that bit of doggedness, that bit of nastiness, that you can go in and win the ugly ball, that you can be the match-winner. No Comer, no Shane Walsh, Matthew Tierney did it for Galway, but I don’t think Jack got that from anybody.”

Tierney grabbed the bull by the horns for Galway, catching kick-outs and kicking scores and generally just making a nuisance of himself for Tyrone – O’Sullivan was disappointed to see that David Clifford was the only man who made such an impact for Kerry.

“David came in at the weekend, kicks a score and straight away gives his man a dunt.

“Pushes him to the ground. It’s a case of ‘I’m here now, I’ll be bullying you’ not the other way around. I don’t think he got that from anyone.

“Another big worry is how Mayo engaged Tadhg Morley, who was brilliant as a sweeper last year. But Mayo engaged him, and the middle was wide open.”

Listen to The GAA Hour Show here, with the Kerry chat taking place 20 minutes in.

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