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05th Jul 2023

Three reasons why Derry can be hopeful ahead of Kerry semi-final

Lee Costello

So you’re saying… there’s a chance?

Derry will face Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final and after The Kingdom’s incredible performance against Tyrone, people don’t hold much hope for the Oakleaf county.

Kerry were simply devastating, and the big thing from that match was the fact that David Clifford didn’t even play well, and they were still dominant.

The chances of Clifford being off his game for two games in a row seems highly unlikely, so you assume he will come out firing, while Sean O’Shea will be brimming with confidence after his performance.

The perceived weakness of Jack O’Connor’s team was their midfield, but Jack Barry and Diarmuid O’Connor were outstanding and bossed the highly regarded duo of Conn Kilpatrick and Brian Kennedy.

Derry on the other hand probably didn’t play to their full potential against Cork, and didn’t make the statement that they maybe would have wanted to make, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Kerry won’t get the same space against Derry that they did against Tyrone, and when it comes to defending, they are going to be met with all 15 players coming at them, something they haven’t had to deal with so far this year.

The reigning All-Ireland champions are obviously the favourites but there are three key reasons why the Ulster champs can feel confident.

1. Chrissy McKaigue on David Clifford

Derry Kerry

Listen, nobody is going to mark Clifford out of the game, he’s simply too good, and it’s something that you almost have to accept before you go into the match.

The Kerryman can easily clip over half a dozen points without playing particularly well, but you still cant let him do what he wants, because when the Fossa man is on form, he can destroy defences on his own, and bring his teammates into the game.

However, there probably is no better man-marker in the modern game than Chrissy McKaigue – his experience, guile and doggedness will present a challenge that even Clifford will find difficult.

Plus, the nature of Derry’s defensive shape means that there is always cover behind as well so they could keep things very tight and constricted, and the longer that the game is in the balance, the more confident the Ulster side well become, while the Munster champions will begin to get frustrated.

2. Shane McGuigan

Derry Kerry

Shane McGuigan didn’t have his best day in front of goal against Cork, but he’s had his best season so far, and the one attribute that he has that will stand to him more than anything else is his mentality.

In the Ulster final against Armagh he told his teammates to get the ball to him as much as possible and he will drive the thing on, and that’s exactly what he did, putting in a performance of for the ages.

Kerry legend Marc O’Se was famous for picking up dangerous forwards, but if he saw a player have a bad game right before they played, he admitted that he would be even more worries than usual.

Great players seldom play poorly in successive games, and the Cork match might have been the perfect way to help one of the most in-form shooters in the game, slip under the radar a little.

3. The midfield battle

Derry Kerry

Barry and O’Connor were in devastating form against Tyrone, and they clearly took the criticism personally when it was declared that Kerry had no midfield.

They went up against two giants in the game and came out on top, however, that doesn’t mean that the whole season beforehand is washed away.

Against Mayo and Cork, the midfield struggled really badly, and when it came to Tyrone, they hardly ever kicked a ball for Kilpatrick and Kennedy to compete with.

Niall Morgan opted to take the short kick out every time, and they didn’t even ask any questions of Kerry’s middle men, whilst Derry boast potentially the best fetcher in the game in Conor Glass.

Throw in Brendan Rogers, a stallion of a footballer who needs to be watched at all times, and they could have a lot of success in there.

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