Analysis: Kickouts, intensity and attacking strength as Kerry rule Munster ahead of Galway test

The42 analyst Sean Murphy takes a closer look at Saturday’s Munster final.

THERE IS NO doubt after Saturday’s Munster final that Eamon Fitzmaurice has potential All-Ireland champions in his corner.

Kerry celebrate with the trophy Kerry players celebrate their triumph on Saturday night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

This Kerry team is simply a joy to watch. Six forwards who can score, a midfield presence, pacey backs, a massive hunger and intensity and an attacking nature. This Kerry team is nearly the finished article.

Cork in contrast are in a bad place after Saturdays result. After the high of beating Tipperary convincingly, they have been given a massive reality check by the Kingdom.

Below is a summary of the main events.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 15.09.01 Source: @GaaStatsman

Cork Goals

I’m going to start with the Kerry negatives as this is how this game began. Cork opened Kerry’s defence up in the first minute of this game. Cork split the Kerry defence open turning Kerry over on their own 45’ metre line and using quick ball and switches of play to launch a high ball in towards Ruairi Deane, who played a simple pass across for the in-rushing Jamie O’Sullivan to palm to the net.

Source: officialgaa/YouTube

As worrying as this will be for Eamon Fitzmaurice, what will make it even worse is that Cork would score a near identical goal in the 9th minute.

Ruairi Deane carried the ball down the left flank and again handpassed the ball across the square for Mark Collins on this occasion to place in the goal. Credit must be given to Deane for his run to receive the ball, he ran 40 metres for a return pass. However was as good as it was to get for Ronan McCarthys side.

On the other side, there is no reason why Deane should have been allowed the space to carry the ball without contact down the Kerry endline.

Source: officialgaa/YouTube

Eamon Fitzmaurice should not be one bit impressed as to how his defence was dismantled on two occasions. In my opinion, the Kerry players were caught on both occasions going towards the ball and not having somebody holding the centre.

Kerry cannot afford to allow opposition have opportunities like this. This is exactly the way Galway will look to exploit Kerry on the counter in their opening Super 8s game.


Kerry, much like in their opening game against Clare, opted to go with an ultra press on Cork goalkeeper Mark White’s kickouts. They flooded the defensive area and pressed on everything they could. Cork had no option but to go long with their restarts.

David Moran in particular and Jack Barry proved crucial in winning numerous kickouts and turning Cork over. Kerry finished the day with a 47% return on these kickouts. Before this game, an area I felt that Kerry would struggle in further down the line would be their midfield but their presence in the middle on Saturday night was of the highest quality. Kerry retained 82% of their own kickouts, however Shane Murphy had a relatively easy day with only 11 kickouts.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 15.09.06

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 15.09.12

Kerry Intensity

The most impressive part of Kerry’s performance for me was the intensity that they brought. Their tackling continued to be on the button throughout the game. They worked tirelessly tracking their men down, getting in near hand tackles. They chased everything that moved on Saturday evening. They put in some big hits also, turning Cork over and hitting them on the break.

This was a statement of intent by Eamon Fitzmaurice. Despite being young, the players showed that they will match anybody physically. They won the tackles battle 48 vs 32. This is an incredible stat given the amount of ball that Kerry had in this game. Despite the amount of ball Kerry had, Cork struggled to get a hand on the Kerry players and looked very much off the pace of the Kingdom.

Kerry won the turnover battle (including opposition kickouts won) 49 vs 32. What will be a concern for Kerry is they gave away the ball 32 times and frequently not under severe pressure. The intensity Level battle was 97 to 64 in favour of Kerry.

Kerry Attacking Strength

Kerry have the ability like Dublin to play with a natural attacking flair. This has been shown in their last two games as they have put up a combined score of 3-50. What was remarkable about last Saturday’s game is despite scoring 3-18, Kerry only had a shot efficiency of 50% – 21 scores from 42 shots.

It was a pleasure to watch some of the Kerry forwards in action. There was two stand out players for me however. Paul Geaney contributed 2-5, this is outstanding scoring from any player.

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Source: officialgaa/YouTube

Source: officialgaa/YouTube

While the other standout performer was Gavin White and the way he kept driving forward with such pace at the Cork defence and was relentless in not letting this up throughout the game.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 15.09.20

Ronan McCarthy cannot be happy with a total of 2-4 from 70 plus minutes. After scoring their two goals, Cork never posed any real threat to Kerry with a total of 15 shots in the entire game. One disappointment I thought was playing Luke Connolly so far out the field, he should have been placed much closer to goal as both an aerial and physical threat.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 15.09.27


For Cork, it really is time to regroup. With such strong teams already in the qualifier system, it is incredibly hard to see them getting to the Super 8s. They lack the quality of the opposition that they will come up against.

Kerry now have secured their place in the Super 8s where tougher tests lie ahead. They will play Galway in Croke Park in their first game. This is going to be a test for both teams.

For Kerry, how their forwards will get on against a defensive system. What will stand to them is that they have six scoring forwards, on the opposite side it will test Galway playing against a team with six scoring forwards. Kerry’s defence is likely to be tested in Croke Park by the Galway forwards and especially on the counter attack.

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Sean Murphy

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