Steven McDonnell: I would love to play in a team with Kerry centre forward Sean O'Shea
AFTER two rounds of the Allianz Football League, the Division One tables stand as most would have expected at this stage. Kerry and Dublin are joint top of Division One South while Donegal and Tyrone are first and second in the northern section.
All eight games so far in the top division have been high-scoring matches and one of the main reasons I believe for this is the time of year that these games are being played. Firmer ground generally allows a player to perform at a better level than they do when slogging through the mud.
I’m not suggesting that every team goes all-out attack to win games. In fact, for large periods of the Armagh-Tyrone match, both teams took a cautious approach in the hope that it would be enough to get them across the line. By playing this way and still being able to score 2-10 tells me that Armagh have more in them and with more experience of playing Division One football, this should afford them the opportunity to play with more confidence and express themselves more.
Armagh did have a great opportunity to win this game but Tyrone benefited from their missed penalty at a critical stage of the second half and like all good teams, they used their valuable experience and pulled away to win this fiercely-contested derby.
Kerry and Dublin have served up some cracking games of football over the last decade and I enjoyed their meeting on Sunday. At an early stage in the second half, it looked as though Dublin were going to continue inflicting attacking wounds on Kerry but a couple of changes by the Kingdom management team swayed the momentum in their favour and during their purple patch, they worked some great scores to get themselves back into the game.
The finish to this contest was exactly what you would expect from a Dublin-Kerry match with the final score of the game coming from a well-taken penalty by David Clifford to level the scores.
Clifford is one of those players that you would pay good money just to watch. He has a calmness and a poise about him that only great players possess.
If the early season signs are anything to go by, then we are in for a delightful season watching one of the game’s finest talents showcase his skills.
In two games he has scored 4-12. This is remarkable by anyone’s standards but given the consistency of performance in Clifford’s career so far, we as supporters almost expect this to be the norm.
While Clifford rightfully takes most of the plaudits because of his flair and elegant style, I don’t believe he would be able to perform at the levels that he does without Sean O’Shea.
O'Shea is every bit as important for the Kerry team as Clifford. For a centre half-forward, he has already scored 11 points in two games and is one of the best free-takers in the country. He consistently performs at a level that is well beyond his years too.
When a team is blessed to have players of the calibre of Clifford and O'Shea, then they always have a chance of winning any game regardless of who their opponents are. An ideal centre half-forward is someone who plays with intelligence and uses his brain most of the time. It’s not often we see Sean O’Shea make a bad decision. His use of the ball is usually on the money, his work ethic is exactly what a manager wants from his team and his ability to constantly support his inside line and become a scoring threat himself is a defender’s worst nightmare.
O'Shea strikes me as an individual who does not get fazed by much and this is shown in his performances. I was very fortunate to play in a team in which John McEntee was centre half-forward and when you have someone who can control the tempo of a game from this position, like John did, then it makes life a lot easier for inside forwards to make their runs, to find a pocket of space and to do what they are in the team to do, which is score.
Players like that are hard to come across and when they are there, we should appreciate them for what they are. Like any GAA fan, I love watching David Clifford in full flow, but Sean O’Shea is one of those players I look at and say, “Wouldn’t you love to play in the same team as him?”