Tyrone’s pacy forwards a concern for Kerry boss Tomas Ó Sé ahead of All-Ireland U20 final

The counties meet in Portlaoise on Sunday

Kerry U20 manager Tomas O Se
Kerry U20 manager Tomas O Se

AS one of the players who went through the three defeats to Tyrone in the noughties that seemed to affect Kerry’s psyche so much, Tomas Ó Sé doesn’t need to be told about the impact the Red Hands have had on the Kingdom over the last two decades.

On Sunday, Ó Sé's Kerry U20 side face Ulster champions Tyrone in the All-Ireland final in Portlaoise, with the expectation levels fairly low in the Kingdom.

They have made it through to an All-Ireland decider at this level for the first time since 2008, when they saw off Kildare in the final.

Tyrone were one of the first sides Kerry encountered in a challenge match earlier this year, but Ó Sé isn’t reading too much into what happened in that January encounter, when his side were victorious.

“You don’t know where Tyrone were at because it was very early in January,” he said.

“There was a pile of fellas missing, you could bring fitness into it, you could bring sharpness into it, you could bring everything, but even on that day what sticks in my head is the pace of them and the danger of them,” he said.

“There was a good few of them playing that day who will be playing the next day and they’re proper footballers.

“They have serious pace and a good attitude and they’ve been seriously impressive from what I’ve seen of them.”

Munster made the decision to introduce a round-robin format for their provincial competition this year, something that seems to have benefitted the Kingdom far more than some of their recent U20 sides.

Kerry saw off Cork in the provincial decider, before edging out Meath by a point in the All-Ireland semi, but Ó Sé thinks Tyrone represent another step up.

“Tyrone move the ball really quickly. They have fellas that can score. They’re very skilful as well as aggressive and pacy,” he said.

“It’s the one concoction you don’t want to face as a defender and they have it in buckets. I think Cork had the potential as well in the forward line, but Tyrone I think have an extra dimension.

“They have corner-backs who are very comfortable kicking scores, you have wing-backs who will go and score goals. There’s more homework to do and more men to cover and, to be fair to our lads, they’ve defended well all year and this will be the toughest test of all.”

The five-time All-Ireland winner felt his side were somewhat fortunate to get over the line against the Royals, who missed a number of chances late on, but he is determined to make the most of that luck.

“We might have fallen over the line, but we are where we want to be,” he said.

“Now the only problem is it would have been great to get two weeks between a semi-final and a final. They’re going for the fourth or fifth weekend in-a-row and it’s hard then to get anything done properly.”