Moynihan hopes Kerry defence can settle down
By John Harrington
Seamus Moynihan says bedding down a settled and solid defence should be Kerry manager Peter Keane’s priority during this year’s Allianz Football League campaign.
The four-time All-Ireland winner and three-time All-Star is one of the greatest defenders that Kerry has ever produced, so is well qualified to pass judgement.
He hopes that Keane unearths a couple of new backs and then gives them the time they need to learn on the job and become part of a solid defensive unit.
“I think we’ve a lot of forwards, we’ve good choices up front,” said Moynihan.
“There’s a lot of quality players there. It’s great to see the likes of James O’Donoghue coming back into it.
“But I just think defensively (we need to be more settled). Obviously Tom, and Tadhg Morley was missing the last day, and Peter Crowley is to come back in so they’ll be three big additions.
“But just to find maybe and unearth, even two would be fantastic. I know they’re trying Graham [O’Sullivan] at the minute. I think he needs to allow players to get a couple of games to see how they go.
“There’s no point in putting him in for one game and dropping him, because confidence will go.
“The biggest thing Peter will have to do this year is work on a defensive system and get guys in and know what they’re about, so we’re not as vulnerable being ran at, and that we’re solid and able to absorb a lot of the pressure, or some of the pressure at least when it’s being put on us.
“In midfield with David Moran coming back, and you’ve Jack Barry, he’s using Liam Kearney, Adrian Spillane, so he seems to be adding in the middle of the field. So I think defence is key for us to win an All-Ireland.
“We’re kind of like Liverpool going back maybe five or six years ago, when they were scoring big, but they were conceding big as well. Kerry will have to keep the scoring going, but will have to become much tighter and ruthless in defence.”
The most decisive score of last year’s All-Ireland Football Final replay against Dublin was the goal that Eoin Murchan scored at the very start of the second half when he raced through a Kerry defence that parted like the red sea.
A susceptibility to teams that run hard at the heart of their defence seems to be a flaw in the make-up of this Kerry team, and was exposed once again in last weekend’s one-point victory over Galway.
“Obviously Galway could have got five goals the last night, I was there myself,” admits Moynihan.
“Dublin will create those chances against the best of teams and they did as well the last night.
“You have to consider as well that Kerry were missing a few of the defenders they brought in. I suppose Tadhg (Morley) and Tom O'Sullivan being big losses the last day, and Peter Crowley as well is a big loss in that overall set-up because Peter is a physical player, he's a strong centre-back and he's a bit of a stopper as well.
“I think Kerry need a player like Peter to come bac into it. Three players are a lot out of the defence but yeah, you're 100% right in the sense that Shane Walsh rant through the last day and he ran through relatively easy to slot the goal into the back of the net.
“So I think it's something Kerry have to work on and if they don't we're going to be vulnerable, especially against the teams who have the quality forwards against the likes of Dublin, Galway, Tyrone and Monaghan.”
If Kerry can shore up their defence, then they’ll take some beating because they have arguably the most potent forward line in the country.
David Clifford, especially, just seems to be getting better and better, and Moynihan is already happy to rank him alongside some of the greatest forwards to have ever pulled on a Kerry jersey.
“Well I have, Maurice Fitz and Colm Cooper,” said Moynihan when asked if he’d ever seen someone as naturally talented as Clifford.
“They are guys obviously with exactly the same kind of talents.
“Even to look at, he's fairly similar to Maurice Fitz in his height, in his gait and what not. They were exceptional players as well so if he can tick the boxes the boys have done it'll be fantastic.
“David is a team player and he will always take an opportunity when he gets it.
“He has a fantastic ability to score with his left leg, he has a good right leg as well, but his ability to spray the ball and give the ball to the right player in the right position - no different to Gooch or Maurice in their day - is exceptional.
“He has leadership qualities and he's not shy. No different to the free-kick the last day against Dublin when he had to stand up and split it over the bar, he showed those leadership skills to stand up and just slot it over the bar as if he was only taking a point back in Fossa in a training session.
“It's fantastic for a 21-year-old to even be compared to the likes of Colm and Maurice Fitz. If he keeps going on the upward curve that he's going it's unbelievable.
“But from David's point of view and from Kerry's point of view, we must only realise it's February and there's absolutely nothing won except Sigersons and a couple of Mickey Mouse competitions in February so David just needs to make sure he continues his good form and you're ultimately judged in Kerry in July for Munster and August now for All-Irelands.”
- Seamus Moynihan was speaking ahead of the Electric Ireland Higher Education Feile Weekend. Electric Ireland has live streamed a number of key games throughout the 2020 season to date and will stream both Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finals this weekend. Visit either www.Electricireland.ie/HEC or www.Gaa.ie/GAANow to access the streams.