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Analysis: McManus threat, Clifford the real deal, Kerry's tackling and Monaghan's missed chance

The42′s columnist Sean Murphy takes a closer look at yesterday’s game in Clones.

THIS WILL GO down as one that got away from Monaghan but Kerry deserve credit for the resilience they showed to stay in touch throughout and got their reward in the end, although it might not be enough for them to make the last four.

pjimage Monaghan's Conor McManus and Kerry's David Clifford starred in Clones yesterday.

Rory Beggan

I’ve spoken before about Rory Beggan but to me yesterday he produced one of the finest
goalkeeping displays that I’ve ever seen.

There is no doubt that Stephen Cluxton revolutionised the game of Gaelic football and the goalkeeping but at the moment Rory Beggan is bringing it to new level completely. Monaghan retained 79% of their own kickout yesterday – an incredible percentage given that Kerry were attempting to go back to what they did well in the Munster championship and had a full press on the Scotstown man’s kicks.

Rory Beggan’s kickouts were laser like yesterday, time after time they continued to hit a man – it was simply a joy to watch. This was completely showcased in the 20th minute of the game when he kicked a ball to Fintan Kelly, 70 metres from the Monaghan goal bypassing the full midfield.

This would have been the score of the season had it came off. No matter when it looked that Kerry had all areas covered yesterday, he continued to find space to put his kick to.

This can be seen in the kickout maps below, they are spread out with an equal distribution to all areas. While Rory Beggan’s kickouts were of the elite standard, his place-kicking in the first 35 minutes was on par, he kicked some outrageous frees including one from 68 metres. He finished the day with a tally of four points – Monaghan’s second highest scorer.

Rory Beggan Rory Beggan's superb place kicking lit up the clash of Kerry and Monaghan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Joe Brolly was correct last night when he referenced him as the quarter back of this team, Beggan has now become the main asset to Monaghan with his kickout distribution a pivotal tool in Malachy O’Rourke’s ranks, for this reason alone Monaghan will be able to mix it with the bigger teams.

He has no problem also taking a ball in play, time and time again continuing to be an outlet for the Monaghan men. If playing, I would seriously consider letting Monaghan go short as when Rory Beggan goes long, its acts as a springboard for their attack. It looks inevitable now that Rory Beggan will be collecting his first All-Star award later in the year.

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 13.45.55

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 13.46.01 Source: @GaaStatsman

Kerry Style of Play

Last weekend when playing Galway, Kerry opted to drop a man back as a sweeper in Peter Crowley. This proved costly as they were unable to press on all Galway kickouts.

Yesterday they changed tact and decided to go man for man with Monaghan. Firstly in my opinion, Kerry are now in no man’s land as they don’t know what way they want to play.

The problem Kerry had yesterday when they went man for man was that there was not enough pressure coming on Monaghan players coming out of defence and in the midfield area.

Compare this to Dublin who also go man to man – they apply intense pressure throughout, working their socks off, showing complete honesty and most importantly, their concentration level is always on the mark.

To play a high pressing game, there needs to be serious concentration throughout delivering constant pressure – no player can afford to switch off or the opposition are in. Kerry are nowhere near that level at the moment.

Again their tackle level yesterday did not even reach 30 tackles – they finished with 28. That is simply not good enough for any inter-county team. Mark Griffin came in for a lot of criticism yesterday for his marking of Conor McManus. I am not saying that he was blameless but there is no way that a player out the field, when a team is gone man on man, should be able to pick out a pass to Conor McManus one-on-one with Griffin. This happened too many times in the game.

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 13.45.50 Source: @GaaStatsman

This is something that has to be rectified going into the Kildare game to give themselves any chance of making the semi-finals. At the moment Kerry are hanging by a lifeline and this is largely thanks to their natural football ability that they have within their ranks.

I do believe that Eamonn Fitzmaurice is correct in going man for man with his side and playing a high press game but they have to get the fundamental principle to this correct in their intensity. The last two weeks it has been 43 tackles versus Galway playing a sweeper and 51 versus Monaghan with no sweeper. This number needs to increase to a minimum of 65 if they are to compete with the top guns.

A star has been born

There is no question that David Clifford is the real deal. One of the main reasons that Kerry are still in this championship is thanks to Clifford and his contribution of 2-7 from play over the past two weeks.

The goal against Galway which came from a scrappy ball when the game was over as contest that Clifford got, could be the difference between Kerry going through on scoring difference or not.

The angle which Clifford was at for the goal he got yesterday was incredible, this goal came from absolutely nothing, a high ball in from James O’Donoghue towards Kieran Donaghy who got a slight touch and David Clifford was again in the right spot to finish to the net.

He is an extremely intelligent footballer, his runs and positioning at all times seem to be executed to perfection and the best feature of this is that he makes it looks so easy also.

When Kerry have needed a leader, this young Fossa man has stood head and shoulders above the rest and all at the young age of 19. Like I said about Beggan earlier, it would look like Clifford will be receiving an All-Star later in the year.

Kerry selector Mike Sheehy must have felt that Clifford goal from nowhere yesterday was like his own against Cork in the 1987 Munster final when Kerry badly needed a lifeline.

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 13.46.07 Source: @GaaStatsman

Monaghan couldn’t put the Kingdom to bed

When Malachy O’Rourke looks back on the video of this game, he will feel even worse watching it than he did at full-time yesterday. Monaghan left this game behind them with their missed opportunities. The Farney men finished the game with a shooting efficiency of a meagre 53% – 18 scores from 34 attempts. 77% of Monaghan’s scores came from McManus and Beggan. The only forward to score bar McManus was Shane Carey with a solitary point.

It is crucial that Monaghan start getting more from their other five forwards playing alongside McManus. This was shown when they struggled to score against Fermanagh earlier in the championship. They need Conor McCarthy, Fintan Kelly, Carey, Dermot Malone and Ryan McAnespie to step up against Galway or they will be heading out at the Super 8 stage.

McManus will be a marked man versus Galway and will be a lot better marshalled than yesterday, the room he got will not be there in Pearse Stadium. It is likely Eoghan Kerin, who is in super form, will take him up.

All that said Monaghan had the chances to put Kerry away yesterday and secure their semi-final spot. Even when Kerry got the goal late on, Monaghan had a chance to put themselves one up again, but squandered the opportunity.

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 13.46.14 Source: @GaaStatsman

Conclusion

Kerry amazingly may only win one Super 8 game and could still make the semi-finals. Their fate, however, is not in their own hands, they have to rely on Galway beating Monaghan in Pearse Stadium for them to have any chance of a semi-final.

They do have to get over Kildare in Killarney also. I think while they have a lot of teething problems all over the pitch, if they can bring a greater intensity to their game, they will come through the Kildare challenge.

Monaghan go to Galway in need of a win or draw. I think they will have it all to do against a Galway team who play a similar game plan to themselves. Offensively Galway were very good yesterday.

They did however show some leaks at the back when Kildare drove at them with pace and in numbers. Galway will be aware the threat that McManus poses and should be able to reduce that. It is then really up to the other Monaghan forwards to step up.

Galway will not have come up against a keeper like Beggan in championship who has pinpoint accuracy and it could cause them problems. For this Monaghan team, an opportunity as good may never come to get to that elusive All Ireland semi-final.

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About the author:

Sean Murphy

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