Kerry Need To Rediscover Declan O'Sullivan's Philosophy To Gaelic Football

Kerry Need To Rediscover Declan O'Sullivan's Philosophy To Gaelic Football

Old friend of this parish and regular contributor Maurice Brosnan was kind enough to upload 110 incredible seconds of the 2008 All-Ireland final to Twitter last week.

The clip crescendos in a memorable score from Brian Dooher but an arguably more outstanding moment of gaelic football skill came about a minute before. Sean Cavanagh won out an outstanding highball over Aidan O'Mahony and prepared to unleash a firecracker when Declan O'Sullivan of all people dove in with a Gormley-esque block to thwart a certain goal.

Here is Declan O'Sullivan, one of the outstanding forwards of his generation, deep in his own half, robbing goals from Tyrone's danger man.

As Kerry begin a sombre post-mortem that could stretch deep into the autumn following the defeat to Tyrone, this clip - and O'Sullivan's defensive heroics in particular - provide a good starting point for anyone looking to forge a revival for the Kingdom.

While fitness proved to be a major factor as Saturday's match dragged into extra time, Kerry were glaringly felled by a failure of defensive fundamentals. In contrast to the likes of Conor Meyler who covered the entire pitch roughly two thousand times, Kerry's forwards repeatedly failed to track their men back on Saturday. Tyrone's entire fullback line scored. While Kerry's backs are often criticised, a sound defensive structure starts higher up the field.


Former Kerry forward Darran O'Sullivan mentioned this problem when speaking on GAA Embedded yesterday.

"It doesn't matter if it's the first round of the Munster championship or the All-Ireland semifinal. you're told if you man goes, go.  If a runner goes, and you're beside him, go with him."

Interestingly O'Sullivan also referenced his old teammate Declan O'Sullivan's philosophy on tracking back.

I remember Declan O'Sullivan said it before about Twitter and Instagram, and liking tweets. He said, 'When I retire, I'll remember the fella who bailed me out on the field, who tracked my man. Not the fella who liked and retweeted my stuff.'There were times Saturday when a man went - and it might not have been the designated player's man, but they went. And if that's the player nearest to you, you go with him. You bail out your buddy. And he'll bail you out the next time.

Fellas didn't do that, and that has a knock-on effect.

Gaelic football is increasingly tactical and analytical but the simple intangibles still matter hugely. The great Tyrone teams have all forged a selfless collective built on sacrifice and dogged work rate. It was there again at the weekend. On Saturday, Kerry's forwards were badly found lacking in this regard.

The second segment of GAA Embedded this week features a brief discussion of Declan O'Sullivan's genius before turning to Saturday's result. That clip - and Declan's entire approach to gaelic football - is proof that the great Kerry teams did the dirty work defensively, on top of the beautiful scoring up the pitch. Kerry have clearly suffered without Donie Buckley coaching them defensively. Whoever coaches them next must find a way to instill a respect for the thankless work that has propelled Tyrone to victory over Kerry many times now.

SEE ALSO: The Reaction To Kerry's Defeat Shows The Problem With GAA Punditry

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Donny Mahoney
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Donny Mahoney is Chief Sportswriter and one of the founders of

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