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'The full-back line are often thrown to the wolves' - Kerry's problems at the back

The Kerry boss believes his whole side must address the concession of goals.

Colm Boyle celebrates scoring Mayo's second goal.
Colm Boyle celebrates scoring Mayo's second goal.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

AFTER TWO CONSECUTIVE clean sheets before yesterday, Kerry found themselves having leaked two goals inside the opening 20 minutes of an All-Ireland semi-final.

It was a turbulent start to the game for their rearguard as Mayo cut them open and it’s an area they will look to address before next weekend’s replay.

But Eamonn Fitzmaurice did not want to apportion all the blame to Kerry’s full-back line for their difficult opening, instead believing it is a wider issue for the team to improve on.

“It’s always a two-way house, you have to look at what kind of ball was going in, where was it coming from.

“The full-back line are often thrown to the wolves but a lot of the time, particularly when you’re not playing a sweeper, if there’s space there and uncontested ball going in, it’s a tough assignment.

“There was an incident into the Hill in the first half when we rode our luck and got away with it. Again, when you’re not playing a sweeper, that can happen.

“It was some battle. Both sets of players deserve massive credit for the way that they went at it today, particularly with the conditions the way they were.

“I think both teams will have regrets, that they could have possibly have won the game, and at the same time be relieved that they’re not going to be out of the championship as well – a typical draw, really.”


Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

The game was the latest rollercoaster tussle that Kerry and Mayo embarked upon, further evidence of how their meetings can often be unique affairs.

“Similar to three years ago, for sure, yes, they take on a life of their own,” remarked Fitzmaurice.

“This was frantic, just a battle and I think that happens at this stage of the championship because the prize is huge.

“Even looking at the hurling semi-finals, particularly Galway and Tipperary, it was similar to today’s game, because fellas were putting everything on the line because getting to play in an All-Ireland semi-final is such a huge prize.

“There was the odd tactic here and there but I am not sure how effective they were today.”

Mayo have certainly spent plenty time on the treadmill this summer with next Saturday’s game set to be their ninth of the 2017 championship.

In contrast it will be Kerry’s fifth outing and Fitzmaurice hopes this experience will stand to them.

“It is a huge positive to get a test like that, to come through it, and to still be in the championship and hopefully it can help us again next weekend.

“I couldn’t put a percentage on it but a game like that is invaluable.

“Regardless of what you try to do in training, which we do as intense as we possibly can, you can’t replicate that kind of championship do-or-die stuff so it will benefit both teams for next weekend.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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