Ryan McMenamin tips Dublin to beat Kerry in 'cagey' All-Ireland semi-final
KERRY came out on the wrong side of their All-Ireland final meetings with Tyrone in 2005 and '08 and former Red Hand star Ryan McMenamin predicts another loss for the Kingdom in Sunday’s semi-final showdown with Dublin.
Gaelic football’s old firm lock horns at Croke Park, with the Dubs fancied to complete a four in-a-row over their rivals and book a Sam Maguire decider against Mayo. McMenamin certainly doesn’t rule Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s Munster champions out of it, but says: “It’s going to be hard to look past Dublin.
“Kerry have been unusually quiet, none of their performances have been standing out but, saying that, they’ll cause Dublin a lot of problems. I’m swaying towards Dublin, but I think there could be a kick in Kerry.”
Kerry haven’t had to extend themselves this season. They won their provincial title by beating Clare and then Tipperary and beat the Banner men again, by 11 points, at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage. Meanwhile, only Donegal (who lost by five) have coming within 10 points of beating Dublin.
McMenamin feels Kerry have to make every attack count to have a real chance of springing an upset: “Every time they attack, they really do have to punish the Dublin mistakes,” said the Dromore clubman.
“Donegal didn’t do that enough - when you do turn Dublin over and they aren’t really set up, you can get a goal, like Ryan McHugh did. Any time Kerry attack, I think they are probably going to have to score because Dublin can score at all different angles and they do attack very well from deep.
“At the same time, I think Kerry have the better forwards, maybe more cute forwards that can cause Dublin bother - if ‘the Gooch’ [Colm Cooper] does play, he shouldn’t bother tracking back too much. He’ll have to cheat more and stay up in the forward line.”
By ‘cheat’, McMenamin means not tackling back when his marker goes on the attack - in last year’s All-Ireland final, Philly McMahon continually had the peerless Dr Croke’s star - who failed to score - running back towards his own goal.
“He was chasing Philly last year but, if you have 12 or 13 behind the ball, you don’t need the Gooch travelling that far back - somebody else should be able to pick him up,” said ‘Ricey’.
“In the last couple of games, Dublin have played with seven forwards, so they’re probably confident in their own ability that they can score anyway, so Kerry would want to go at them. They’d need to be leaving at least three or four high up the pitch to give themselves a good chance to catch them on the counter.”
The majority of Championship games this season have been attritional battles and, while several threatened to ignite, they ultimately failed to catch fire. McMenamin predicts another “cagey” affair: “With county football at the minute, every team sets up not to get beat and leave themselves hanging in the game for the last 15 minutes,” he said.
“It’s going to be a cagey-enough affair and, going by the football in the Championship this year, I’m not going to hold out too much hope.”