Dan Sheridan/INPHO David Clifford and Jack O'Connor after the game.
Jack O'Connor: 'These Kerry players have been yearning to get a cut at the Dubs'
The counties will meet on Sunday 10 July.

JACK O’CONNOR BELIEVES his Kerry team will relish the chance to take on Dublin again in a championship setting after that semi-final pairing was confirmed this afternoon.

The teams will meet in the last four stage after Kerry’s victory over Mayo today and Dublin’s success against Cork last night.

It will be the first time Kerry have got the chance to play Dublin in the championship since their All-Ireland final replay defeat in 2019.

“The bottom line here is these Kerry players have been yearning to get a cut at the Dubs from as far back as three years ago. They lost an All-Ireland out there that they would feel they could have won. We certainly won’t be lacking motivation but neither will Dublin. 

“Dublin will want to show that they’re back as good as ever, the team that won the six-in-a-row. They had a blip last year and they look to have rediscovered the hunger and the drive that got them to that six-in-a-row.”

Kerry will hope star forward David Clifford will be at full speed for the semi-final, an ankle injury incurred early today proved a setback.

“He jarred his ankle. Looked like it (was stepping on the ball). It was curtailing him and in the heat of battle the adrenalin keeps you going but I imagine he will be very sore tomorrow.

“Obviously David was struggling through much of the first half. The boys worked on him at half-time but obviously he has an injury and, sure, look, we’ll have to wait and see and get it scanned and see what’s the story.”

The Kerry management had considered taking Clifford off early in the game.

“We did, absolutely,” said O’Connor.

“But he’s the kind of a player you’d nearly give the benefit of the doubt to most of the time. He’s not just an ordinary player and he showed it with the goal he scored which was a serious goal, because it came at a time when we were struggling to get scores and we were struggling to get a foot-hold on the game. That’s the class of the man, that’s what he can do.”

O’Connor gave an update on Kerry’s other injury issues.

“Jack Barry strained his calf and Adrian Spillane strained his hamstring in the last week or so so they’ll also be in a race against time. I’d say Begley was only a cramp. Diarmuid (O’Connor) got a heavy fall, he fell on his back, and he was a bit shook. He was on a yellow card anyway so it suited us to take him off maybe.

Kerry’s quarter-final performance contained the rusty aspects that were expected after a four-week layoff from competitive action.

jack-oconnor-with-james-horan Evan Treacy / INPHO Jack O'Connor with James Horan after the game. Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I think we’ll get benefit from the game itself, whatever about the gut-check,” said O’Connor.

“We needed a game. I mean, it’s ridiculous, we were sitting for four weeks watching our opposition playing games. It’s almost like you’re penalised for winning the provincial championship. Thankfully that changes next year but it’s a crazy system. What do you do? You try to make training as intense as possible and hope for the best. From watching that first half I thought we were a fair bit off the pace.

“In a way I suppose it was a perfect storm. We were four weeks without a game and Mayo played two games in the interim. Plus the slippery conditions made it difficult to get up the pace of it. Not taking away from that, I thought we were rusty in the first half. We gave away an awful lot of ball.

“I don’t have the stats to hand but we must have given away nine or 10 possession in our forward line that allowed Mayo to counter-attack and we can’t afford to do that the next day because with the running power that Dublin have they’ll punish you at the other end.”

2david-moran-and-jordan-flynn James Crombie / INPHO Kerry's David Moran and Mayo's Jordan Flynn. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

O’Connor hailed the performance of veteran midfielder David Moran.

“Huge. I think he kicked at least two points. Two points and really rolled back the years. Like, we didn’t think there were 70 minutes in him. He thought so himself by the way and he proved it out there. It’s a great asset.”

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