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'Kill or be killed' - cynical tactics, the pain of watching an All-Ireland and the outlook for Kerry

Paul Geaney has no qualms with the measures taken in the finale of the All-Ireland decider.

PwC GAA / GPA All-Stars 2017 nominations announcement Paul Geaney at the launch of PWC All-Stars sponsorship until 2020. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

PAUL GEANEY TOOK his seat in Croke Park on Sunday before throw-in and found the 70 plus minutes of action that ensued a tough watch.

It was only after a second bout with Mayo in August that Geaney was deprived of the chance of featuring as a main player on All-Ireland final day.

Another outstanding season leading the line in the Kerry attack culminated with a bystander role on the biggest afternoon of the football calendar.

“Painful enough,” reflected Geaney.

“It was a good day, a good spectacle but it is sickening enough not being on the field on All-Ireland final day. It is what you are built to do and what you are hoping to do every year.

“It is fairly gut-wrenching alright to see someone else lift the cup and not even being able to contest it. I actually watched it in PWC’s box right next to the RTE studio so I had a good vantage point.

“I could have been the only one from our team in Croke Park the last day and I can guarantee you that there were a couple of fellas that did not even watch the game. It is a tough one, alright. I came last year as well.”

Aidan O’Shea and Tom Parsons with Brian Fenton and James McCarthy Dublin and Mayo midfielders battle for possession. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Why travel up from West Kerry then to put himself through an uncomfortable viewing experience?

“I come because I want to learn how to beat Dublin or Mayo. Every day is a school day. I am a supporter as well.

“It was pretty much all that we knew what both teams were capable of doing. Kick-outs from my vantage point was something that I was interested in. Mayo did extremely well off Cluxton’s kick-out.

“You saw Jayo running in to him in the first half to change up and try and get their hands on ball. It is not often you see anyone going into Cluxton to tell him what to do with his kick-outs so that was interesting.”

Dean Rock and goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton celebrate Dublin's Dean Rock and Stephen Cluxton. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Geaney had a clear view of the chaos and madness of injury-time. With the stakes so high, the desperate measures taken to succeed – whether it be throwing GPS units, wrestling defenders to the ground or lobbing kicking tees away – did not surprise him.

“The cynicism in how the game ended up, those sort of things are interesting to see. If you are really contesting the All-Ireland and going out to win it, they are markers of where your team is at because if you are not doing those things then you are not really tuned in enough be contesting an All-Ireland final.

“I would expect it from anyone who has ambitions of winning an All-Ireland. Kill or be killed. There was a discussion on the black card the last day and somebody was talking to Colm Cavanagh, who was sitting next to me, about that incident with Sean against Monaghan.

Conor McManus is dragged down by Sean Cavanagh Conor McManus is dragged down by Sean Cavanagh. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“That was a case of either Sean Cavanagh taking a player down or Monaghan getting a goal and knocking Tyrone out. That is sport. In soccer there is a red card but that does not stop defenders making challenges to save a goal or Luis Suarez handing a ball on the line.

“It is part and parcel of the game. It is the nature of sport and I would not have expected anything less from the Dubs in that situation and they got their just reward for it, if you want to put it that way in that they slowed the game down.

“It is a situation where you have to do everything in your power to win. That throwing the GPS unit maybe a step too far but again that is Mayo will to win at all costs.

“All you can say there is that it was an incredible free from Dean Rock under that pressure in the first place. Maybe it was not a hard free and it is our job as free-takers to kick those and it is his job to kick that, but that was before I saw that GPS thrown at him.

“That can really put you off so it showed some balls for him to kick it. Even if someone ran across you line of vision in the wrong moment it would be enough to put you off but for someone to throw a GPS unit, how do you even think of that in the first place? But that shows you the will to win.”

DeanRock Dean Rock nailed the match-winning free for Dublin. Source: INPHO

Geaney has no qualms in tipping his hat towards Dublin but that doesn’t make it easier to take when another county is dominating the game.

“It’s something I said maybe two years ago, I didn’t want to be a player playing when Dublin have a golden era and it looks to be unfolding that they had a golden era since 2011 when they beat Kerry.

“The only thing I can try to do to stop that is win an All-Ireland or two before I hang up my boots. It looks pretty tough to do at the moment and we are doing everything we can to try and change it.

“I suppose up until the semi-final I was convinced we were going to win it this year. But looking back we seemed to have peaked at the Munster Final and went downhill from there, things didn’t go our way at all.

“We were well off the pace in both the Mayo games looking back now, and even the Galway game we were poor, we were sluggish.

Keith Higgins, Seamus O’Shea, Aidan O’Shea, David Clarke and Colm Boyle tackle Paul Geaney Paul Geaney tries to find a way past the Mayo defence in their semi-final replay. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We have to try to peak later in the year to give ourselves a better chance. They (Dublin) have now done three in a row and they look hard to stop, extremely hard to stop.

“They’ve a really strong bench as well, good management, good system, they look imperious at the moment.

“It is hard to take, yeah. A bit more so for me this year. Last year was easier to get over after two weeks, three weeks, but I think there’s a long winter ahead for me to be looking at and feeling sorry for myself.

Niall Scully, Cormac Costello, Con O'Callaghan, Paul Mannion and Diarmuid Connolly celebrate Dublin players celebrate Sunday's victory. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’ve no club football left either, so it’s hard. There’s no option but to move on. I’ll be thinking about the All-Ireland from now on until we get a chance to win it again next year. It’s sickening enough, all right.”


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