Kerry legend Aidan O’Mahony believes Conor Cox will have a target on his back throughout the Football Championship following his impressive display for Roscommon against Mayo.
Cox completed a transfer from the Kingdom in December of last year and now plays his football with the Eire Óg club in Roscommon.
The 26-year-old previously helped Kerry to All Ireland Junior titles in 2012, 2015 and 2017, scoring 1-9 from play during the final against Meath two years ago.
Paddy Power GAA Ambassador O’Mahony has praised Cox but believes he would have a tough time breaking into Kerry’s current forward unit.
“I’m delighted for Conor, he was with Kerry for a few years while I was there and it didn’t happen for him. Maybe he’d claim that he never got a chance, maybe whoever was looking at him with Kerry would have said he was short something.
“He’s a strong lad, a beautiful kicker of a ball though, and the system Roscommon use suits him. But, when you look at the options Kerry have in the full-forward line in Paul Geaney, David Clifford, Stephen O’Brien and James O’Donoghue, would Cox get in before anyone of those? Now, I’ve great time for him and I’ve marked him plenty of times, but I have to be honest and say that he wouldn’t get in.
“That being said – after the performance he put up against Mayo – he’ll be a marked man for the rest of the Championship.”
Following that loss to Roscommon, Mayo now find themselves out of the Connacht Football Championship and into the second round of the qualifiers.
While he admits that it is a big blow to the county, O’Mahony predicts that James Horan’s men will perform well through the back door system.
“Mayo left themselves totally exposed in defence, which is not like them. They looked like rabbits in headlights for a lot of the game, because they weren’t expecting what Roscommon brought to it.
“I was surprised when James Horan said that they should have beaten Kerry by 10 points or more after the League final. I thought it was strange coming from him. I presumed he was more of a shrewd operator and he wouldn’t let his guard down to say something like that.
“I can’t understand how you can have big, physical men like Aidan O’Shea and Matthew Ruane in midfield and not kick the ball out to them. They went short a lot of the time instead. The two boys were totally dominant in midfield, so why not persist in going ‘long’ with your kick-outs?
“Then you look at Kevin McLoughlin’s missed free to draw the game at the end. Three lads went to take that before McLoughlin did. The players should know who is going to take the frees. Dublin would never do that. I don’t believe Mayo wanted to go into the back-door system either.
“I’d fancy Mayo to come through the backdoor and I don’t believe too many teams will want to play them either. They can use the loss to Roscommon as a learning curve and with a few tweaks, they’ll be back on the road.”