Madden on Monday: Kerry will be annoyed by ref's calls

  Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy screams into the face of Dublin’s Philip McMahon after Kerry scored their second during yesterday’s semi-final clash at Croke Park. McMahon and the Dubs had the last laugh
Picture by Seamus Loughran

1) Dublin showed true class... but Kingdom will be annoyed with ref’s calls

WHAT an unbelievable game of football. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

The Kerry goals before half-time were the major catalyst to make this into an exhilarating spectacle that showcased just why this current crop of Dublin players have the potential to go on and be one of the greatest teams of all time.

At five points down they had to come out and and throw everything at it. After bridging the gap and bringing the game level, Kerry hit another purple patch with scores through Barry John Keane, Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue.

With ‘the Gooch’ pulling the strings around the 40, at three ahead Kerry looked in control, but the maturity, composure and leadership shown by Dublin to claw the game back had all the hallmarks of true champions. Philly McMahon, Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon and Diarmuid Connolly all made major contributions.

They did what leaders do. Dean Rock produced an almost flawless exhibition of free-taking, but still Kerry will be kicking themselves. They had their chances, but if I was a Kerry man this morning I would be extremely annoyed at how all the major refereeing decisions went in favour of Dublin

2) Big decisions went in Dubs’ favour

I THOUGHT that David Gough controlled the game excellently for the most part... but there’s a ‘but’. A massive ‘but’, in fact.

He got a few big calls badly wrong and, unfortunately for the Kingdom, they were all in favour of Dublin.

When Kerry were still three up he gave a free at midfield for a ‘foul’ by Anthony Maher on Michael Dara MacAuley which led to a converted free won by Johnny Small.

Both players cleanly contested possession and there was not even a hint of a foul.

Then there was the 50 given wide by the umpire and, in fairness, it did look wide. One can only assume the fairly aggressive remonstrations by Kevin McManamon made him change his mind.

Needless to say, Dean Rock converted the subsequent 50. Another huge call was the free he gave for a pull on Bernard Brogan as Peadar Andrews attacked.

Both players were jockeying one another for prime space, but again the remonstrations by Brogan were enough for the referee for make a very harsh call at a time when Kerry were three up and in control with just 10 minutes left to play.

The next pull by Shane Enright on Brogan and one off-the-ball by Crowley on Connolly were fair calls, but the major one of two for me was the free Gough awarded for the Dublin equaliser. I still cannot figure out what is was given for.

Paul Murphy and Connolly went hard for the spilled ball. Perhaps he deemed that Murphy touched the ball on the ground, but it didn’t look like it – a massive call, again in favour of Dublin.

The other was the most difficult to understand. On the attack, probing for the equaliser it was clear Peter Crowley was hit full frontal by McManamon.

Dublin’s tackling was much better and Kerry’s, at times, bordered on lazy. But 12 scoreable frees for Dublin compared to just four for Kerry was a tad lopsided.

3) Fitzmaurice made a mistake with substitution of star man Geaney

DAVID Gough wasn’t on his own when he came to poor judgement. Eamonn Fitzmaurice is a shrewd manager.

He used his bench well with subs Barry John Keane, James O’Donoghue and Stephen O’Brien all chipping in with scores.

But the Kerry manager made a questionable call when he substituted the dangerous Paul Geaney who had scored 1-4, replacing him with corner back in Marc O Se.

When you still need scores you don’t take off your most dangerous forward. It’s probably fair to say that Kerry bench had more of an impact than Dublin’s. But two big moments also came courtesy of the Dublin replacements.

The fresh legs of Michael Fitzsimmons to hunt down and take the ball off James O’Donoghue was massive as was the score by Eoghan O’Gara which sealed the deal.

Kerry will rue the missed chances. The Colm Cooper shot that dropped into the arms of Stephen Cluxton was such an easy chance for him to put Kerry two points clear.

The James O’Donoghue miscontrolled hand-toe was a sickener as it looked more likely that he was going to go on and kick a score.

4) The ‘kick-out’ was crucial

ONCE again the kick-out was a fascinating aspect of this great game. Kerry really struggled on their own restarts in the first half with Dublin winning most of the breaks when they kicked long. With Kerry sitting off, Dublin were also winning their own kick-out far too easily.

After 29 minutes they had secured pretty much all of their own and around 50 per cent of Kerry’s, so it was no surprise that the scoring opportunities after just 14 minutes read Dublin 8 Kerry 2 at that point.

But just short of the half-hour mark, a combination of errors by Cluxton and more intense pressing on the Dubs kick-out swung the game massively in favour of Kerry. The Dublin corner-back pulled in tight towards Cluxton to allow the wing back Johnny Small the space to take possession out near the sideline.

But Paul Geaney played the space between both men, tempting Cluxton to still make the pass.

He messed it up badly as Geaney read it and sprinted across towards Small to make the interception. His next one went over the sideline and the two after that went long and were won by Kerry. In that purple patch Kerry scored 2-1 off the Dublin kick-out.

5) ‘That’s why they’re champions’ 

KERRY completely changed their kick-out strategy in the second half as they popped most out wide to the corner-back position.

This worked well as it gave them valuable possession to build attacks and make Dublin work hard to get the ball back.

Considering Dublin were chasing the game, I was surprised they didn’t push right up and force Kerry to go long the way they did in the first half.

But Dublin had sorted out their own and looked comfortable in their belief that they would still get enough turnovers and possession and clinch the win. Sure, they left it late and, sure, the big calls went their way also.

Yesterday was a day when they stood up and showed incredible resolve to grind out the win. That’s what true champions do.



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