Clifford could be back for Kerry on Saturday night

Photo: Irish Independent

The weather – not to mention the current geopolitical situation – might be wild and unstable right now but, in contrast, the build-up to our NFL Round 6 clash with Kerry is quiet and fairly low-key. In case it had slipped your mind the match takes place on Saturday evening at Austin Stack Park in Tralee (throw-in 7pm), where Fermanagh ref Niall Cullen will be in charge of proceedings.

The game is being broadcast live on Eir Sport and on RTÉ2. This is of more than academic interest to me as I’m not heading south myself for the match and so will be following the live action from the sofa.

There’s no word yet, of course, on starting line-ups for the game. There was, though, a piece in yesterday’s Irish Examiner (here) that provided some information on where Kerry stand personnel-wise heading into this one.

The bad news, from their perspective, is that both David Moran (tendinitis) and Paul Geaney (back) are both definitely ruled out. Killian Young is also a long-term absentee for them.

More ominous news from our standpoint comes with the revelation that current Young Footballer of the Year David Clifford and former Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue could both feature in Tralee. Neither of them have played any part in Kerry’s League campaign so far – that piece, by the way, confirms that Kerry’s five-from-five start marks their best League opening since 1965 – but they could get a run out at some point on Saturday night.

David Clifford enjoyed a sensational first year at senior level for Kerry in 2018. Just out of minor, he was their star forward in a Championship campaign that saw them win Munster without breaking sweat before they eventually came unstuck in the Super 8s. The young Fossa player picked up both the YFOTY award and an All-Star at the end of last year but he’s missed all the action this year due to shoulder surgery.

James O’Donoghue is a player who has had no luck at all with injuries in recent years. The 2014 FOTY has suffered a series of setbacks in the years since then, greatly hampering his inter-county career in the process. His most recent problem is a hamstring/calf muscle issue and it has kept the Killarney Legion clubman on the sidelines so far this year.

There’s no fresh news at all from our side of the fence. As I mentioned last week, Paddy Durcan, Ger Cafferkey and Evan Regan are expected to be available for selection for Saturday night, with Cillian O’Connor perhaps also coming into the frame for this one. Ciaran Treacy is, however, likely to miss out and Seamus O’Shea is now out for the rest of the League campaign with ankle ligament trouble.

So, shorn of any news on that front, it’s worth pointing you instead in the direction of a piece by Mike Finnerty in this week’s Mayo News with Alan Dillon. In it the former Mayo captain talks about why he feels his Ballintubber clubmate is an ideal choice to captain the county team this year.

Finally, just a heads-up about a bucket collection that’ll be held in and around Austin Stack Park on Saturday night. This will be in support of the fundraising drive for Kieran O’Connor, the ex-Cork footballer who is suffering from a rare form of bone cancer – details on his story here.

That Kerry GAA Twitter account, by the way, also says that there are a few tickets for the game on sale in SuperValu this morning so, if you’re still on the hunt, you might want to pop into an outlet near you to check this out.

32 thoughts on “Clifford could be back for Kerry on Saturday night

  1. As we could already be safe by the time the ball is thrown in it is hard to know what type of performance to expect from Mayo. I hope Clifford and O’Donoghue are playing as it’s always useful to get a look at players with an eye to later in the year.It’s looking like being another wet and windy evening so conditions we are used to playing in this year. Kerry will want to maintain their unbeaten run and confirm their league final appearance. I’m sure our lads will want to put in a stern challenge so could be a cracking game.

  2. Whether we are safe or not should not make any difference to our performance. The bigger picture is dining at the top table come summertime. And to do that we need to come away with positives from every game.
    I expect no lack of intensity or effort in trying to carve out a result against Kerry.
    More disciplined, more to offer tactically, especially in creating goal chances, and inspiring performance from the young lady, that’s what I feel is needed….

  3. They mentioned on Off The Ball earlier today on The Gaelic football show programme presented by Shane Stapleton now that David Clifford won’t feature against Mayo as expected.

  4. I was hoping he’d play. Wanted to put a beating into his subconscious for later this year 😉

  5. I agree with you there On the Ditch Mayo needs to substantially raise our performance from the Galway game especially in the scoring department. We are not creating Goal chances and our point taking is suspect. We cant be blaming the weather either as an excuse its the same for Kerry. I hope JH has done a good bit of shooting practice at training and drills for scoring goals we are going to need goals in Tralee.
    I hope Clifford and O Donoghue play as our lads need to play against the best its only then you know how good you are. If the weather is bad ie windy Hennelly should start as his kickouts will suit our Midfielders. AOS should stick in the middle along with Ruane and O Connor to make sure we win ball and feed into the forward line quickly. I hope Reape starts along with Mc Donagh and Run at the Kerry FBs they are suspect there.
    Mayo by 2 points.
    Safe travelling to All.

  6. Hi All,
    Dubs legend on Laochra Gael tonight…I know lots of people think he’s a thug but I believe this programme will show the real Kieran Duff…and very importantly best of luck on Saturday evening.

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  7. I would love to see Paddy Durcan given a run at CF. Nearly always going forward , seeing the options around him, with a terrific engine, he could do for us what Pateen Donellan did so often for Galway in the 60’s. We can arrange enough big men around for the high kickouts. What do you think?
    Up Mayo.

  8. Watched TG4 this evening with my Dad and wife, Mayo and adopted Mayo now too. I was always a fan of Duff has a young lad, he was an exceptional footballer, his style reminds me of our new captain. Tall, athletic, physical and can score off either foot.

    Great show and a well chosen player to highlight his life.

  9. Looking forward to the game on Saturday.

    Voted for a Mayo win out of habit (And sure if we don’t back ourselves)

    Having said that, I’d say we did ok if we keep within 10 points, good if we keep within 5 and would be thrilled with a win.

  10. I hope kerry have close to their best team out and that they play well. We’ll learn far more from playing them at the top of their game.
    If we can get a fairly decent performance on saturday regardless of the result I’ll be happy.
    I’ll be worried if we go another game of almost finding it impossible to score from play. We have gone huge chunks of games without seeming to be able to score from play and don’t think when it comes to the championship we can switch this on automatically.
    Still hoping that James sticks with the younger lads.

  11. Dublin play a very structured game, they find a man with the kick out and then they get the ball to their inside line with absolute efficiency. They almost always have runners from deep as an option if the initial fast attack is unhinged by a good defender or perhaps slopppy ball handling by the receiving Dublin forward. Your defenders are almost immediately under pressure as they move the ball with such pace that your defense is lucky to have one on one when the size 5 arrives in the danger zone. With their pace and individual skill this leads to quality points or scoreable frees as a result of panicked tackling when they look to be heading towards the onion sack. Equally they can recycle the ball comfortably and move the ball in a controlled manner until they find an opening but it is not their preferred option and they have a far poorer return when they have to resort too it.

    This year thank God we are finally starting to see Buckley’s influence on a long overdue defensive structure in Kerry’s game plan. Mayo are doing this for years and it has served ye well. For the last few years when ye were playing the dubs they had to work hard to find a yard to get a shot off in championship and this greatly impacted on their accuracy. Their forwards were no different from the ones racking up huge tallies against the likes of Kerry and others but the difference was Mayo’s structure, defensive awareness and deciplined tackling. Kerry were simply unprepared (or at least lacking) in this vital aspect of the modern game and while we were able to get a good score against them we simply were unable to out gun them as they picked us off with far too much ease.

    Aidan o Shea is a very good player but he tends to take a little too much out of the ball when he plays at 11, to be fair to him by the time he gets the ball the opposing team are usually taking up defensive positions. In saying all that he tends to localize an attack as he rarely foot passes the ball into the danger area and he gives and receives short passes almost like a pre match possession drill which reduces or misses possible inside options and tends to draw the Mayo forwards into a more manageable noosed area for the opposition. Mayo urgently need to change this aspect of their game and get the ball out of the turnover area and into the scoring area. With the full forward line there is almost an expected delay when ye are in possession, Horan simply has to develop that instinct in the middle eight, ye will have to develop structures and set plays to facilitate the direct transition of the ball into the scoring zone if ye are to challenge for the big one later in the year, I know Mayo are a different animal on hard ground but time and tide don’t do waiting.

    With the change in the Kerry setup this could result in a very frustrating night for the mayo attack on Saturday evening if they don’t up that aspect of their game.
    Kerry are now playing a similar type of attack and defend game as the dubs, the recent game in Austin Stack Park was a fantastic game for that reason. Whilst they both defend in numbers the quick transition by both teams allowed for some great forward play and equally good individual defending which entertained those lucky enough to to see it.

    I am looking forward to this game and the weaseling for tickets suggests that so are many more. I think we should win but I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if mayo burst out of the traps and give us a bellyful on Saturday. Mayo are the one bloody team that can pull an ace when you least expect it.
    Safe journey too all.

  12. @gamechanger. Hard to argue with any of that and I think managers would be well served analysing the Dublin performance as much as analysing their own team performance.
    I think you hit nail on head with ‘quick transition of the ball into the scoring zone’. That aspect is currently absent in Mayo’s play.
    I don’t know what your views on poor AOS best position. Personally I would put him in full forward with licence to move out, like a Michael Murphy. Coen Reape Diskin are all possible ball winners in our inside line in the future.
    Equally looking forward to Saturday. Mayo a wounded animal after defeat by Galway and no doubt Horan will have seen the need to vary our play. Hope it’s a decent night for football, and weather update from your neck of the woods

  13. Seen there that Fionn McDonagh is the top scorer from play so far in this years league so I would say he’s a cert for the Summer just by going by that as we are really lacking scoring forwards at present.
    I would like to see a full forward line of Conor Diskin, Brian Reape and Darren Coen this weekend and see how they go, really think that they could cause problems if there given the right service.
    Aidan O’Shea needs to play as a defender midfielder in my view with Tom P gone this year, the role he played like v Donegal 2013 Qf, thats where we are going to see the best out of him in his remaining years he’s the best tackler in the country so he can win vital turnovers around our 45 and still field long kickouts, he does not score much like he did in the early part of his career, to me it looks like a lack of confidence he rarely if ever shoots now and he’s was very accurate for his size in his younger years, so to me I think he’s wasted in 11 taking a place of an out an out scoring half forward.Maybe if James played him at 14 I think then we could see alot more of a return out of him like 2015 but I don’t think he has the patience to play as a full forward for a full match.

    My Team for Kerry
    1.Hennelly
    2.Barrett/ O’Donoghue
    3.Cafferkey/ Vaughan on Tommy Walsh
    4.Harrison on David Clifford
    5.Plunkett
    6.Keegan on Sean O’Shea
    7.Higgins
    8.A.O’Shea
    9.Ruane
    10.McDonagh
    11.D.O’Connor
    12.Doherty
    13.Diskin
    14.Reape
    15.Coen

  14. This is a great game for us, regardless of result will learn a lot playing in a packed tralee venue.
    With this in mind all the young guns who have showed promise so far need to be backed again here.
    Relegation is not happening realistically so dont have to fight for our lives result wise.

    No sense in playing Boyle, Moran and co from start, absolutely nothing to be learned from that. Hopefully McLoughlin and COC get a decent runout to see how they are moving. As per discussion in the other thread its time to move AOS out of the half forward line too as that just hasnt been working, need to be quicker on transitions.

    Would hope for the following to start…
    Would like to see something like the following for next few games

    Hennelly
    EOD
    Harrison
    Barrett

    Keegan
    Plunkett
    Durcan

    AOS
    Ruane

    DOC
    McDonagh

    Doherty
    McLoughlin

    Reape
    Coen

    (COC first sub in at halftime)

  15. Gamechanger, has Buckley really had much influence at this stage? Does he not holiday in Florida until end of January? He’s really just getting to know them now I should think. Come championship, I expect his influence to be felt, in all senses of that word.

  16. Buckley knows Mayo so well, that he will have a major impact on Sat. Kerry at home a tougher test for us than Dublin in croke park imo. Kerry have their sights set on dethroning Dublin. We are in the process of team building.
    It’s all about performance on Saturday evening for us. The newcomers make an impression and we are tactically smarter than we were against Galway.
    I’m with Game changer on this one. We must offer variation in our play. Fast movement into our target ff line players quick lay off and goal chances. Mixed with familiar more pedestrian lateral build up panning out on the 40 resulting in long range point opportunities.
    Interesting challenge for team and management.

  17. Are Kerry not team building too?
    Sure their league record so far is good but I don’t think they’re ahead of the posse, if they are it’s not by much. Forced to experiment and so far going well. Good results by small margins and probably decent confidence as a result but with Clifford and Geaney missing are they really all that good? Likewise Maher retired and Walsh injured are their 2 best midfielders. We’ll see at the weekend, maybe they are good. A lot of our trouble in last 2 games came from unnecessary stray passes and panic shooting. Also discipline of some senior players not great. Win or lose would like to see a big improvement. Even against Tyrone it took a while to find our rhythm.
    We need a plan for Tommy Walsh.

  18. While I’m unconvinced that taking aido out of the center forward position would improve the team I do think it’s worth trying someone else in there and put aido back to midfield. Mcloughlin played there in the league a few years ago but it didn’t really work, cillian is an excellent center forward with his vision and range of passing but we can’t afford to take him out of the FF line in my opinion. Conor loftus is an out and out center forward but he doesn’t seem to be in the frame this year and his size def counts against him. It only really leaves diarmuid to play there.

  19. Is there any main bar that Mayo people tend to meet in on the Saturday of a game in Tralee??

  20. Actually i know i said previously result isnt the be-all and end-all here we should certainly be going there looking for the win, when you consider the personnel available to both sides.

    Kerry are missing Geaney, Moran, Clifford (likely) and a handful of Dr Crokes lads. Mayo only missing Seamus O’Shea who hadnt been starting anyway. Kerry have only managed to beat Galway, Cavan and Monaghan by a score so a win should certainly a reasonable expectation.

    Win would be nice and certainly a reasonable objective but the main things i will be looking out for on saturday
    – another good showing and faith shown in the young guns McDonogh, D Coen, Ruane etc
    – more variety in the attacking play, quicker transition from defence to ff line
    – improved discipline in the tackling, this will be easy to spot as any foul committed anywhere in our own half is likely to be punished by Sean o’shea who is the best free taker in the country at the moment.

    Looking forward to a belter of a game

  21. any word on the team yet for tomorrow night, he must be waiting to see how the results go in the earlier games and then put out a very young team if first division safe.

  22. Catcol,
    Yes I think he has had and is having a profound effect on our control of open play from both kick outs and turnovers to our ability to prevent the opposing team to waltz unchallenged from defense to attack. Heretofore Kerry simply held the opinion (or notion) that they could trust their backs, rely on their midfield and rejoice in their forwards flamboyanc and get over the line.

    Two years ago mayo pulled their half forwards back and the Kerry management instructed their half backs to follow them out the field thus leaving our full back line woefully exposed to quick diagonal and high ball. This was an indication of naivety within our defensive structure and overall management approach. Such a tactic would not have exposed the dubs at that time as their high press and intensive tackling from their forwards would slow the opposition sufficiently to allow time and space for others to occupy the required defensive setup.

    Now we would not be as naive as that and it is evident that players in the Kerry team are very much aware of their defensive responsibilities and indeed requirements. I am not saying we have it cracked but we have vastly improved our strategy and with time we will become harder to score against imo.
    Weather is mixed for tomorrow for those traveling ..

  23. “any word on the team yet for tomorrow night, he must be waiting to see how the results go in the earlier games and then put out a very young team if first division safe.”

    Can see several games being postponed

  24. Team announced.
    1. David Clarke – Ballina Stephenites
    2. Chris Barrett – Belmullet
    3. Brendan Harrison – Aghamore
    4. Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis
    5. Stephen Coen – Hollymount/Carramore
    6. Michael Plunkett – Ballintubber
    7. Donal Vaughan – Castlebar Mitchels
    8. Matthew Ruane – Breaffy
    9. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    10. Fionn McDonagh – Westport
    11. Conor Loftus – Crossmolina Deel Rovers
    12. Diarmuid O’Connor – Ballintubber(C)
    13. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    14. Jason Doherty – Burrishoole
    15. James Durcan – Castlebar Mitchel

  25. Good man Louis on the ball there, Loftus at CHF , a big chance to impress, he has to take it. AOS in the middle, I believe he will have a free role with Diarmuid and Fionn able to cover for him. Dont expect Mcloughlin to stay in the corner. Was expecting Darren Coen to get another chance base on the conditions last day,. Keagan may need the rest as he has been out of sorts, overall not a bad team but there is a few others who need game time so lets see who starts and whos on the bench.

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