THE 1-16 KERRY put past Dublin in the drawn game would have been enough to beat them in the 2015 final and both the 2016 decider and replay.

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Stephen Cluxton saves a shot from Kerry’s Paul Murphy.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

But when you consider Kerry played with an extra man for over 42 minutes and didn’t even have a shot for the final 12 minutes, it’s clear their efforts in attack must greatly improve for Part II.

Since they became a more defensive team from the 2015 season onwards, Dublin shipped 2-15 vs Fermanagh in 2015, 2-14 vs Kerry in 2016, 1-17 vs Kildare in 2017, 2-16 vs Roscommon in 2018 and 1-17 vs Cork earlier this year – all higher tallies than Kerry’s last Sunday week.  

It’s also safe to assume Dublin’s front six will be better this weekend. Outside of Dean Rock, the other nine forwards that featured (including substitutes) contributed a paltry 0-3 between them from nine shots – 33% efficiency.

Overall, Dublin’s conversion rate was 60% (17 from 28 shots) and that dropped to 52% (10 from 19 shots) from open play. 

It’s highly unlikely Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton will be as quiet in front of the posts again. Great players don’t tend to put poor performances back-to-back. 

So if we assume Dublin will be more clinical up front, then Kerry will need to greatly improve in an attacking sense this time around too. 

Kerry’s Paul Geaney gives a pass inside.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Kerry created more shots at the posts and opened up Dublin for a number of clear-cut goal chances, but were let down by their shooting. Their shooting accuracy was 53% (17 from 32 shots) and 41% (10 from 24 shots) from play.

When Sean O’Shea’s perfect 10 points from 10 shots are taken out of the equation, it paints an even more stark picture. Outside of O’Shea, Kerry’s efficiency in front of the posts was 33% (7 from 21 shots) which is way off the level required.

By and large, they weren’t shooting from bad areas of the field either.

Their forwards will know it too. Paul Geaney missed five chances, including a penalty and a shot saved off the line, and David Clifford left four behind him. Paul Murphy missed two, a goalbound shot that was tipped onto the crossbar included, while David Moran and Tommy Walsh also sent chances wide. 

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The biggest thing Kerry need to get right this time around is to take their goal chances when they arrive. It’s no coincidence that the last team to beat Jim Gavin’s side put three goals past them – Donegal in the quarter-final five years ago.

“Definitely need to get goals,” says Marc Ó Sé.

“It’s something I said before the game. I think Kerry needed to score three goals to win the match. If you look at it, we definitely had the opportunities.

“Paul Geaney had the penalty miss, he had another opportunity which James McCarthy stopped on the line, and Stephen O’Brien possibly could have gotten a penalty in the second-half.”

David Clifford lines up a shot.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Worryingly for the Kingdom, they’ve scored a goal in every single championship game yet they’ve only hit the net twice once this summer – against Meath in the Super 8s. 

“From a Kerry point of view, we had the opportunities but we have to take those opportunities,” continues Ó Sé.

“And I think that the next day going into the game if we take those opportunities we’re well in it.” 

In addition, Kerry must continue to probe if they find themselves defending a lead in the closing stages and keep the scoreboard moving. Their failure to even get a shot off after the 66th minute was damning and ultimately cost them.

If they can improve their shooting efficiency and put a few goals past Stephen Cluxton, they’ve got a major chance of winning this game.  

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