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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018

Donaghy, defence, ruthlessness - the big talking points after Kerry name team

Kerry’s All-Ireland final selection has provoked plenty debate.

The Kerry team lining up before their clash with Tyrone.
The Kerry team lining up before their clash with Tyrone.
Image: Andrew Paton/INPHO

KERRY LAST NIGHT named their starting team to face Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

And there was plenty to debate after the starting fifteen was announced.

We’ll trust Éamonn Fitzmaurice that he isn’t going to start the practice of dummy teams so here’s the big talking points after the side was revealed.

1. Donaghy drops to the bench

Ever since the semi-final against Tyrone, there was doubt over whether Kieran Donaghy would start the final. He admitted himself that he faced a ferocious fight to grab a hold of the number 14 jersey, a familiar sense of pressure that he would previously have experienced before the 2011 decider.

Paul Geaney’s stirring contribution against Tyrone was sufficiently persuasive evidence for the Dingle man to be handed a starting place. Donaghy’s form has tailed from the heights of 2014 and it’s a big call to put a captain on the bench. Yet that’s the pragmatic attitude which has served Kerry well and the Austin Stacks man will likely get some opportunity to shape the outcome.

2. Big defensive calls

The attacking alteration wasn’t the only big calls made by the Kerry management as a pair of defensive changes were made. Five-time senior winner Marc Ó Sé and 2014 All-Ireland final man-of-the-match Paul Murphy will both start on the bench.

It’s understood that both are carrying injuries – O’Sé hamstring and Murphy hip – which must have prompted the changes. Fionn Fitzgerald and Aidan O’Mahony won’t lack experience or nous. But having to alter a third of the rearguard is a move Kerry would probably like to have avoided.

3. Match-up’s at the back

The defensive calls raises questions over which Kerry defenders will now tail which Dublin forwards. It’s all guess work of course but with Ó Sé absent does that mean Shane Enright will be detailed to mind Bernard Brogan?

Killian Young to take on Diarmuid Connolly as former teammate Declan O’Sullivan suggested this week?

And could Paul Murphy he be detailed now to come off the bench when Kevin McManamon is introduced similar to the Enright v McBrearty ploy in last year’s final?

4. Fitzmaurice ruthlessness

Éamonn Fitzmaurice has never been shy in chopping and changing his team, the All-Ireland final does not see him sway from that pattern. A rousing win over Tyrone hasn’t deterred him from making three changes.

That brings to 16 the number of personnel alterations Fitzmaurice has made throughout the 2015 championship campaign. It’s a remarkable turnover considering the side have been unbeaten this summer.

But the Finuge man has preached the importance of training ground form ever since he took over as Kerry boss and has never had a problem in shuffling his deck. That has continued before Sunday’s showdown.

5. Strength of bench

Reel off the names of the Kerry substitutes – Brian Kelly, Kieran Donaghy, Marc Ó Sé, Paul Murphy, Bryan Sheehan, Barry John Keane, Darran O’Sullivan, Paul Galvin, Tommy Walsh, Pa Kilkenny and Alan Fitzgerald.

That’s an incredible wealth of talent at Fitzmaurice’s disposal with 28 All-Ireland senior medals and 12 Allstar awards among those players. It gives Kerry a huge level of experience to draw upon for Sunday.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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