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5 reasons why Kerry can win the All-Ireland senior football title

The Kingdom have the experience, a strong central axis and the game’s in-form forward on their side as they chase September glory.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Kingdom swagger

Kerry love August in Croke Park. They love the sun on their backs and the wide expanses of Croke Park. No side takes to GAA HQ at this time of year better than the Kingdom.
After an indifferent league, Eamon Fitzmaurice’s new-look side arrive into the final four at 17/2 outside bets for the All-Ireland. You get the sense they didn’t take too kindly to being written off against Cork before the Munster final, and they are waiting in the long-grass for a chance to upset the apple-cart for a second time this summer.
For all the young players Fitzmaurice has injected the side with, they still have a squad littered with All-Ireland medals and Allstars. They will have several experienced All-Ireland winners starting against Mayo along with more on the bench.

2. Quality on the bench

In the past, Kerry might have struggled with options from the bench but this year they have the necessary weapons held in reserve to make an all important impact.
Darran O’Sullivan, David Moran, Barry John Keane, Kieran O’Leary and Kieran Donaghy all have proven their pedigree at this level and are capable of changing the game, or closing out a victory.
Stat: Kerry scored 0-5 from play off the bench in the quarter-final victory over Galway.

Darran OÕSullivan 3/8/2014 Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. The strength of their central axis

One of the most impressive parts of Fitzmaurice’s second year in charge has been the establishment of a strong central-axis in the form of Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan and Johnny Buckley.
The trio combined to brilliant effect during Kerry’s Munster final thrashing of Cork, where Sheehan and Buckley alternated between centre-forward and midfield and kept a steady supply of ball into James O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney.
Buckley’s excellent positioning means he picks up his fair share of kick-outs and he is well able to take a score.
Stat: Maher, Sheehan and Buckley have scored 0-15 (0-5f) between them so far this summer.

Anthony Maher and Johnny Buckley Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Bryan Sheehan’s dead ball skills

There are few footballers in the country who can match Sheehan’s abilities as a free-taker.
He kicked three excellent placed balls against Cork in the Munster final and the distance from where he can strike the ball means that anywhere Kerry win a free inside the attacking half, Sheehan is liable to have a pop – and score it.

Source: bcmediaTV/YouTube

5. James O’Donoghue

The Opel GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for July has bagged 0-10 and 1-5 in the two championship games he has played to date, and is undoubtedly the in-form player heading into the semi-finals.
Fitzmaurice has built this Kerry team around O’Donoghue and the number of times he is left one-on-one with a single defender and 20 yards of open country in front of goal is no coincidence.
The intelligent movement of Kerry’s forwards utilizes O’Donoghue’s best feature – his inherent desire to collect the ball and run straight at goal. Galway and Cork couldn’t live with the Legion man and on current form, there’s not a defence in the country that can shackle him.
Stat: O’Donoghue has 6-39 to his name between league and championship in 2014.
*****
Tomorrow: We take a look at the aspirations of Dublin and Donegal

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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