'Paul Geaney stood up and was counted when Kerry needed him'
One week after being told he was 'hanging on by a thread' as an inter-county star, Paul Geaney proved he is exactly where he is supposed to be.
Heading into the championship summer, Kerry boss Peter Keane looked to have a selection headache that would prove tough to solve.
The Kingdom appeared to have a four-into-three dilemma. Three positions in the forward line to accommodate David Clifford, Paul Geaney, James O'Donoghue and Tony Brosnan.
As it transpired, Brosnan's involvement in Dr Crokes' run to the All-Ireland club final saw him miss out on Kerry's league campaign and fall away from Keane's summer plans. He is now playing his summer GAA in the USA.
O'Donoghue is fit again and Kerry fans were hoping he would be able to recreate that 2014 form that saw him win Footballer of the Year. There have been flashes but he is still a ways off that 2013-14 peak that saw him bag two All Stars.
Geaney and O'Donoghue both came in for criticism from Joe Brolly on The Sunday Game, after Kerry had ran through Mayo in their first Super 8s game. Geaney scored 1-2, but the former Derry forward declared:
"I believe that Geaney and O'Donoghue are weak links. I think James O'Donoghue is gone as a county footballer and I think Geaney is hanging on by a thread; hanging on. I mean, James was anonymous today [against Mayo], really, if truth be told.
"Geaney had it so free and easy today. Let's see how he gets on whenever the Donegal boys get at him next week."
As it transpired, O'Donoghue missed out on the starting line-up. Geaney started and he was Kerry's top scorer, registering 1-4 in the drawn game that saw Clifford and Sean O'Shea score just 0-3 from play.
On The GAA Hour, host Colm Parkinson, Conan Doherty and former Meath forward Cian Ward all discussed that thrilling Kerry vs. Donegal encounter and there was some highly merited praise for Geaney.
Geaney's goal, after 43 minutes, was opportunistic but also took a lot of skill and confidence to beat the solid Shaun Patton in Donegal's goal.
The Dingle clubman pounced after the Donegal defence got into a spot of bother, and he only had one thought on his mind. Spearing forward, Geaney took one bounce, one solo and drove low past Patton with the outside of his boot.
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"Geaney scored 1-4 and he started wing forward," Parkinson noted. "I thought it was very interesting. Killian Spillane and Clifford were obviously inside, on their own.
"Geaney really didn't spend any time in with them. He was more in the half forward line. Sean O'Shea was dropping deep so Geaney was in the half forward line more. He definitely wasn't playing on the inside line.
"He scored 1-4 and could have had a second goal - the one when he blasted over the bar [for a point]. But he stood up and was counted when Kerry needed him."
Doherty believes the half forward role suited Geaney as he was adept at exploiting the extra few inches of space further out from goal. "Bit of space and bang, it's over."
"I didn't think he had the ability to play in the half forward line," Parkinson admitted. "When you have a guy tailored as an inside forward - he's a finisher, he's good in the air, he doesn't base his game around speed - I was thinking it wasn't for him, but he's well able for it."