KERRY GAA legend Colm Cooper reckons Peter Keane’s squad will need to become more clinical and work harder on their fitness if they hope to knock five-in-a-row champions Dublin off their championship throne.
He said whether or not Kerry should have won the drawn All-Ireland final last year, they certainly could have won it as they played “smashing champagne football” and got their match-ups really right on the day.
They struggled to contain rampant Dubs defender Jack McCaffrey, however, and Cooper maintains that if they could have controlled the attacking wing back, they could have won the Sam Maguire.
The Dr Crokes clubman also highlighted the fact that the young Kerry team got very tired in the last 10 minutes as they had put so much effort into it and, he stressed, it’s very hard to maintain that effort over 75 minutes in Croke Park.
Speaking on the Backdoor GAA podcast, sponsored by The Kick Company, Cooper said Kerry also got “a little bit tired” towards the end of the replay even though they had fought back well after the blow of Eoin Murchan’s goal to get themselves back in contention.
“I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it because for a lot of those guys it was their first All-Ireland final,” he said.
“You think of Clifford, Sean O’Shea, Tom Sullivan, Brian Begley, the Spillanes and lots of other guys – they had never played the Dubs in a big final so what we are all hoping for here is that they learn an awful lot from it,” he said.
He said he hopes Kerry supporters won’t fall into the trap of thinking that because they got so close to the Dubs last year that they will beat next time.
“Sport doesn’t work like that. Kerry will still need to improve by about 10 per cent,” said Gooch.
The experience of last season will stand to them but they will need to be more clinical and fitter, he stated.
Cooper told Backdoor podcast interviewer Paul Shaughnessy that the Kingdom will also need to work on their defence because even though the “brilliant Kerry forwards” could score 3-15 on any given day, the likelihood is that they could concede 2-13 or 2-14 on any day at the moment as well so they need to address that issue to be “in with a right shot”.
“It’s going to take a big effort for anyone to knock the Dubs but I think Kerry are as good as anyone of the lot who are chasing them,” he said, adding that Galway and Donegal were also very dangerous while, to a lesser extent, Tyrone and Mayo are also likely to be in contention.
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