GAA Football

Kerry's fearlessness a big threat, says Tyrone's Conor Meyler

Tyrone's Conor Meyler in action against Cork. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Cahair O'Kane and Francis Mooney

CONOR Meyler believes Kerry are a side “playing without fear” because of their youthfulness.

The Tyrone utility man was in his first year on the panel when he played in the sides’ 2015 All-Ireland semi-final meeting.

The two sides will be back together in Croke Park on Sunday, but the experienced look is now Tyrone’s, who have been building off the platform of that 2015 run ever since.

Kerry, meanwhile, have had a completely fresh look about their team this year under new manager Peter Keane, and Meyler believes their fearlessness could be Tyrone’s biggest threat.

“Both teams have probably improved since 2015. We've been building, I was 20 when I started that game in 2015, I'm 24 now. I'm a bit older and a bit wiser.

“We've been building collectively this last number of years, we've been in four of the last five semi-finals so it's what we're getting used to. I think we're maybe a bit further on in our development now and we're looking forward to the challenge.

“It [Kerry’s youth] is a double edged sword, these boys are playing without fear and that's definitely something that could benefit them as well.

“They're elusive and it's hard to know what they're going to do next. You can set up whatever way you want, their transition to the forward line is class.

“We've looked at Kerry and are learning from them in one sense again. We've been on the road a bit longer and we're at a nice age now.

“I don't think experience will be the reason for one team winning or not, it'll come down to what happens on the day. It'll come down to small percentages, I can't see either team coming out by an awful lot.”

The winners will face either Dublin or Mayo in the All-Ireland final, and former St Mary’s and UCD student Meyler believes that the five-in-a-row chasing champions are catchable this summer.

He had, among others, Con O’Callaghan as a Sigerson Cup team-mate at UCD, and said he learnt from his time studying a Masters in Education that the Dubs “aren’t invincible”.

“They hold their cards close to their chest. They’ve very, very level-headed fellas.

“What you start to realise is you’re no different. Sometimes Dublin can be held in a regard where they’re looked up at as if they never make mistakes, people have such high opinions of them.

“They deserve their credit for what they’ve achieved, but when you look at it a wee bit deeper, they make mistakes, just like any of us.

“They do similar training to us, they do the same recovery stuff, they do the same things in training. Some teams who play Dublin – not ourselves – are nearly beat before they go in because they feel they’re not on the same level.

“What I learnt is they’re very much human. They do the same things we do, they make the same mistakes. If it was anything, it was a learning that these boys aren’t invincible, they’re very beatable.”

The Red Hands, meanwhile, are set to have a full squad for Sunday’s game after Richie Donnelly and Michael Cassidy were both passed fit.

The pair picked up knocks in their weekend defeat by Dublin in a dead-rubber in Omagh.

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