Ciaran Whelan identifies one area of concern for Dublin after Kerry comeback

ciaran whelan

“This is what will have annoyed the Dublin management most.”

Ciaran Whelan has identified one area that will be of particular concern to Dublin after they surrendered a seven-point lead to arch-rivals Kerry.

Sunday’s draw means three of the last four meetings between the two counties in league and championship has ended in a stalemate, dating back to the 2019 All-Ireland final.

Kerry-Dublin rivalry.

That 2019 final saw Kerry lead 14-man Dublin heading into injury-time, but they couldn’t see it out and the five-in-a-row seekers managed to secure a replay.

The teams were level at 0-10 to 0-10 at half-time in the second match before Eoin Murchan scored a goal straight from the restart. Dublin never looked back and claimed a historic victory.

The third game between the two sides took place in the following year’s league campaign at Croke Park, where a stoppage-time free from David Clifford secured another draw for the Kingdom.

In what was one of the last Gaelic football games to take place in front of a crowd at GAA headquarters, it was believed that the two sides were sussing each other out ahead of another clash in the All-Ireland final later that summer.

However, the pandemic struck and when the inter-county game finally resumed last winter, a knockout championship took place.

Kerry were defeated in extra-time by Munster rivals Cork, courtesy of a late smash and grab goal from substitute Mark Keane, and never made it back to Croke Park as Dublin won a sixth All-Ireland in succession.

Ciaran Whelan on his concern for Dublin after recent Kerry comeback.

On Sunday, the sides played out another classic draw, but this time Whelan believes the nature of Kerry’s comeback will concern Dessie Farrell and his management team.

The former Dublin footballer pointed out that Kerry outscored their opponents 0-8 to 0-1 at one stage in the second half and it was their ability to turn over the six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions in possession that would be the biggest concern for the Dubs.

“They attacked Dublin’s kick-out with ferocious intensity and forced Dublin into a succession of uncharacteristic errors,” Whelan wrote in the Irish Independent.

“Dublin players got caught in possession, coughed up the ball and misplaced passes as their usual methodology and patterns seemed to desert them because of the pressure being exerted.”

Ciaran Whelan on Kerry’s lockdown training.

The six-time Leinster winner also identified something his Sunday Game colleague Pat Spillane said regarding Kerry’s lockdown training.

The two-time All-Star winner believes that if that work has had the desired effect then Dublin could be playing serious catch-up to their All-Ireland rivals later this summer.

“Pat Spillane was on the radio last week talking about the massive amount of running and bike work the Kerry players had undertaken in accordance with their individual programmes during lockdown and their work-rate and athleticism in the second half was impressive,” Whelan added.

“This is what will have annoyed the Dublin management most – the fact they were out-worked.”

Whelan also raised concerns about Brian Fenton being deployed, at times, in the Dublin forward line, suggesting that this wouldn’t be a good tactic if the two sides meet again.

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