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22nd Jul 2022

Former Kerry defender reveals how he would mark Shane Walsh and Damien Comer

Lee Costello

“You possibly go after his temperament.”

Marc O Sé has been there, done that, and got the ‘I won the All-Ireland’ t-shirt.

Over the years for Kerry, the defender has marked some of the biggest names in GAA history, and has come out on top on more occasions than not.

It’s a case of horses for courses when you’re picking up a forward; they all have different strengths and weaknesses, so you need to be as cunning and prepared as you can be.

Kerry GAA star and Ladbrokes ambassador Marc Ó Sé spoke with ahead of this weekend’s All Ireland Final.

The two big forwards that Kerry will be preparing for this Sunday are Shane Walsh and Damien Comer, both of whom have the ability to turn a game on its head on a moment’s notice.

Walsh has played a crucial role in getting the Tribesmen back to the All-Ireland final for the first time since 2001, but despite kicking some essential scores, his performances haven’t been up to par in his last two games.

How to Mark Shane Walsh.

“You possibly go after his temperament because you look at what James Morgan did in the Armagh match and you look at the way that he got really stuck into him.

“One thing you always say to a forward if a back was dogging you, is that you move – you keep moving – and that’s something Shane Walsh was maybe guilty of in the quarter-final, in particular against Armagh; he wasn’t moving a lot.

“He got into a few altercations with Morgan and that was basically playing into Morgan’s hands. You have to keep moving and keep the defender on his toes.

“One thing I used to hate down over the years – I used to look at a player that I knew I would be marking and their form in the lead-up to the game, and if I saw a player who had played poor in the previous game or two games before that, then I would be really be on my toes.

“A county player will rarely have two bad games back-to-back – would never hardly have three bad games back-to-back – and I’m not saying Shane Walsh had bad games, but by his own high standards, he wouldn’t be at the level he would be happy enough with.

“Comer on the other hand has been outstanding this year, especially in the semi-final, so all eyes will be on him. Shane Walsh is a player from a Kerry point of view that they need to go after; they need to get physical.

“It will be interesting to see who the man marker is. McCluskey did a great job on him in the semi-final, James Morgan did a great job in the quarter-finals, and the talk is it will be Tom O’Sullivan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brian Ó Beaglaoich go on him, because he did very well on Ciarán Kilkenny, although Kilkenny did come into the game at the last stage of the game, but you wouldn’t be surprised to see him coming on and going after Walsh.

“Brian is well equipped to do a marking job, and has matured very well in the last year or two physically, so he could very well take Shane Walsh.”

How to mark Damien Comer.

“You have got to stick to him, you have just got to. There are two things you have to do to try and stop a player like Damien Comer.

“Number one, you have to put pressure on the ball that’s coming in, and make sure that the ball isn’t of a good quality, and that means pressing.

“Number two then, the player who is marking Comer basically needs to deny possession, because if you deny possession, then it means they’re not getting on the ball, and they’re not going to have the influence they would like to.

“So they’re the two things from my point of view and I think that Galway are going to have their moments of dominance, there’s no doubt.

“They’re very strong around the middle, and have players who can win ball and win primary possession, so they are going to have their period of dominance.

“From a Kerry point of view, I suppose it’s about nullifying that threat, getting bodies back to protect that Kerry back line, but also Jason Foley will have a huge role for Kerry on Sunday.

“One of the key battles will be Comer vs Foley, and whoever comes out on top of that battle will have a huge influence on how the game goes.”

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