How The Kerry And Donegal Teams Have Changed Since Their Last Championship Meeting

How The Kerry And Donegal Teams Have Changed Since Their Last Championship Meeting

Brought to you by AIB, proud sponsor of the GAA Club Championships.


Two years ago, on their inexorable to march to the All-Ireland title, Donegal were met with Kerry at the quarter-final stage. Jim McGuinness' team were giddy with the momentum generated by their handy march through Ulster. They had that air of Northern purpose that suggested that they were going to get this done.

Kerry, by contrast, had a messy campaign, being beaten by Cork in the Munster Final and then finally overcoming their decade long irritant Tyrone in a cathartic summer's evening in Killarney. And no sooner had they banished this enemy than they we faced with an even more exaggerated version of the same phenomenon. Donegal were very much seen as Tyrone 2.0, a team who the previous year had managed to make Tyrone 2003 model look positively flaithulach in their play.

What followed was a game which was much closer and more evenly matched than was subsequently reported.


How have the teams changed in the intervening years?

KERRY - The Changes


The 2012 Kerry team that faced Donegal

Brendan Kealy; Marc O'Se, Aidan O'Mahony, Shane Enright; Tomas O Se, Eoin Brosnan, Killian Young; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan; Paul Galvin, Declan O'Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh; James O'Donoghue, Colm Cooper, Kieran Donaghy

Subs used: Brian McGuire, Darran O'Sullivan, Johnny Buckley, Kieran O'Leary, Paddy Curtin


The Kerry starting line-up that took on Donegal that day contained 41 All-Ireland medals. That is against the team that takes the field Sunday, which is merely garlanded with 17 medals.

The Munster champions have changed much more radically in the intervening two years than have their opponents. This is largely down to the changing of the guard, where many of the stars of the success laden 2000s era have called it a day. Paul Galvin, Tomas O Se,  Eoin Brosnan have all quit, Colm Cooper is out of action, Bryan Sheehan is unable to start, while Declan O'Sullivan has been moved to the bench.


The 2014  team:

Brian Kelly; Marc O'Se, Aidan O'Mahony, Fionn Fitzgerald; Paul Murphy, Peter Crowley, Killian Young; Anthony Maher, David Moran; Stephen O'Brien, Johnny Buckley, Donnchadh Walsh; Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy, James O'Donoghue

The half back and half forward lines have seen the most radical flux with the seasoned warhorses, O Se and Brosnan replaced by Paul Murphy in his debut season and new centre back Peter Crowley. Declan O'Sullivan now begins games from the bench with a very different type of player, Johnny Buckley, operating at centre half forward.


Back in 2012, Kerry were a war weary outfit with a lot of miles on the clock who had years of experience playing under the weight of nagging expectation. The Kerry team of 2014 are a callow team of which little was expected of at the start of the year and which contains names which are still not terribly well known outside of Kerry. However, they haven't lost any of the instinctive know-how.

Total number of personnel changes: 8


DONEGAL -The Changes


Donegal have a smattering of changes from the 2012 side, but unlike Kerry, the core of the team has not been ripped out and re-formed. Donegal don't quite have the voluminous resources of Kerry, the seemingly endless supply of anonymous lads  capable of slotting in without diminishing the quality of the side.


The Donegal side of 2012

Paul Durcan; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Frank McGlynn; Eamon McGee, Karl Lacey, Anthony Thompson; Ryan Bradley, Rory Kavanagh; Martin McElhinney, Leo McLoone, Mark McHugh; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden


Jim McGuinness' team for this Sunday usually only becomes apparent once the last bars of the national anthem has been drowned out by the usual cacophony roars and the players have trotted off to their starting berths.  So one can only go on the team that lined in their historic toppling of the Dubs.

Paul Durcan; Eamonn McGee, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath; Anthony Thompson, Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn; Neill Gallagher, Odhran MacNiallais; Christy Toye, Leo McLoone, Ryan McHugh; Rory Kavanagh, Michael Murphy, Colm McFadden

The Donegal backline is unchanged save for some alterations as regards where certain players are deployed, though the system is rather fluid. The biggest changes are in midfield with Rory Kavanagh now officially occupying the corner forward position but his actual role is more akin to that of a third midfielder. Odhran MacNiallais was on the stars of the semi-final and is chasing his first All-Ireland medal.

Neil Gallagher did not start the Kerry game in 2012, but was sprung from the bench for McElhinney at half time and went on to win an All-Star. Elsewhere, Paddy McBrearty is now increasingly used off the bench one McHugh has been replaced by another.


Total number of personnel changes: 4 (in reality 3 and a half given Neil Gallagher's prominent role)


Brought to you by AIB, proud sponsor of the GAA Club Championships.




Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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