Aidan O'Mahony tips James O'Donoghue for replay role
By John Harrington
Former Kerry star Aidan O’Mahony has tipped James O’Donoghue to be a trump card for the Kingdom County in the All-Ireland SFC Final replay against Dublin.
The 2014 Footballer of the Year has been struggling with hamstring injuries all year and wasn’t even part of the Kerry panel for the drawn game.
But there’s a chance he’ll be fit to play some part in the replay and O’Mahony believes he could give Kerry something different to throw at Dublin in the second-half of the match.
“I was surprised I didn’t see him on the panel the last day,” said O’Mahony today when speaking at Ireland Active’s launch of National Fitness Day 2019.
“Nothing is coming out from the panel at the moment, which is a great thing. I think if Kerry were going to throw in anything different the next day, I would have him on the panel. I know, unfortunately, some guys have to lose out but I think for James O’Donoghue, if he’s any bit fit at all, he’s definitely worth a point or two to you when the game opens up.
“I wouldn’t be starting him if he hasn’t trained all along. I think for both sides, you need to throw in something different the next day.
“We need to talk about someone different being included in the panel for two week’s time. It’s probably himself and Bernard Brogan that’ll be the two players talked about the most because you probably look at your team the last day and you look at players you mightn’t have used and you say, ‘right, is there someone on the outside that we need to bring in?’, and I think James O’Donoghue would be one of those guys.
“I’ve played with him myself and I’d be very good friends with him, he’s that kind of a cock-a-hoop guy, he’s a likeable character. In fairness to him, when he’s on form, if he’s getting ball and you have someone like Tommy Walsh to win ball for him inside, he’s a very accurate player too.
“Who knows? It’s an interesting one and it’s one I thought about myself, for me he’d be definitely a guy involved there.”
O’Mahony believes Kerry’s young team will have learned a lot from the drawn match and can be better again for the replay thanks to the benefit of that experience.
He also thinks that David Clifford, who wasn’t quite as clinical in the drawn match as he usually is, can deliver a bigger performance in the replay.
“I thought Clifford had a massive first half. But, yes, there’s more in him because we expect more of him with that brilliance he has. That’s why I’d be taking it as a positive the last day that there is way more in him.
“I think Mick Fitzsimons went over on him and did a good man-marking job on him which is always going to happen to him. He’s always going to be one of those players that teams point out and say ‘he has to be man-marked.’
“There’s pressure on David from spectators or supporters point of view that we want more from him because when he’s on the ball, he could do anything.
“Hopefully, we haven’t seen the best from him and I think there’s a bigger performance in him the next day. He’ll know that himself, he’s like a player, even when you talk to him, it’s like he’s been around for years and he’s a relaxed kind of character.
“I think he’s a player that needs to be brought more into the game the next day. When we got him on ball in the first half, he was excellent, the way he was shielding the ball and all that. He’s a big player for Kerry.
“Paul Geaney as well, I think there’s more in Paul so they are two big players for us the next day that we can get more out of.”
If Kerry are to stop Dublin’s ‘Drive for Five’ at the second time of asking, then O’Mahony believes top of their to do list will be to curb the influence of Jack McCaffrey, who scored 1-3 from wing-back for the defending champions in the drawn match.
“He had an amazing game the last day,” said O’Mahony. “Kerry will have to do something to curb him. Looking in, you'd probably say that you'd put Stephen O'Brien on him but if Stephen O'Brien goes over, John Small is going to follow him. That's not going to happen.
“If someone is marking him, it's a great challenge. It's no different to going out into a game, someone gets Man of the Match and you're saying, 'Right, I'm marking him the next day'. There's no pressure on you, just don't leave him kick 1-3, whatever you do.
“He needs to be put the other way as well. When Dublin went down to 14 men, maybe Kerry stood off too much.
“He is a big, big player that Kerry will have to look at the next day. In all finals, I haven't seen him play badly, he's one of those players who plays well on the big day.
“Kerry will have to plan for him the next day. It's no different to having (a plan for) Con O'Callaghan in corner forward.”
Aidan O’Mahony has teamed up with Ireland Active to launch National Fitness Day 2019. On this year’s National Fitness Day (26th September 2019), Ireland Active will host the second Docklands Fitfest as part of Dublin City Council’s Dublin Sportfest. National Fitness Day is supported by Sport Ireland, Healthy Ireland and the European Commission, with a common goal of promoting the benefits of physical activity. In celebration of National Fitness Day, Fitbit will be giving away free Fitbit devices as part of the initiative in participating leisure centres, workplaces and schools across the country.