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'Those Three Questions Marks Are Still Sitting Over Kerry'

'Those Three Questions Marks Are Still Sitting Over Kerry'
By PJ Browne

With Kerry leading Cork by two points at the break in their Munster semi-final on Saturday evening, the message from Jack O'Connor and his management team was simple. "That's what we said at half-time, that we had to stop being foolish and loose with the ball, and stop giving them easy possession in their own defence," O'Connor told Sky Sports after the game.

Jim McGuinness felt Kerry's difficulties in breaking down the Cork defence had more to do with how the Rebels set up than any excessive wastefulness by the Kingdom.

"I don't think Kerry were foolish in attack," said McGuinness.

"I think Cork were very well set up. I think Kerry struggled to break them down. In the bigger picture nationally, teams will look at that, that Cork laid down a foundation today in terms of making it really difficult for Kerry.

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"They man-marked David Clifford inside. They doubled up on him with the sweeper, the other sweeper covered the middle with the runners coming down the flanks, then they covered the bodies around that. The problem for Cork was when they turned it over and took the ball into contact.

"In terms of the overall context of the game, if Cork ended up 50-50 on the kickouts, that game would have come down to the wire. Up to 50 minutes, Kerry couldn't break them down. For me, that's a big one.

"We spoke about David Clifford, and the attention he's going to get, and he got it tonight. That's another situation. Cork didn't push up fully on the kickout. Those three questions marks are still sitting over Kerry, in my opinion."

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After Cork reduced Kerry's advantage to just a point 13 minutes into the second half, the Kingdom replied with eight consecutive scores as they started to dominate the Cork kickout. They eventually won 0-23 to 0-11.

"With 50 minutes on the clock, it was a one-point game," said McGuinness.

"It ended up 26 kickouts to Kerry, 12 to Cork. For me, that was where the game was lost from a Cork point of view. You just can't do that.

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"Every kickout was going out to the goalkeeper's left-hand side, and Kerry picked up on that. They flooded the area, and picked up ball after ball. You see that run of scores Kerry got, every one of them came from that area, and the kickout."

See Also: Convincing Kerry Seal Spot In Munster Final With Victory Over Tipp

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