Darran O’Sullivan: Tyrone’s reluctance to kick the ball was frightening

Four-time All-Ireland winner Darran O’Sullivan delves into Kerry’s victory over Tyrone in the National League and grades Peter Keane’s first game in charge…


I had tipped Kerry to win last Sunday because with the team they had named, I couldn’t see the Tyrone backs living with them.

However, when I saw the conditions on the way up to the match in Killarney, I believed the game would have suited Tyrone’s style.

Tyrone had the wind in the first half and their reluctance to kick the ball was frightening.

On the occasions they did do it, their basic skills were poor and they had an inability to pull it off effectively.

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I got up to a high vantage point to watch the game – a perfect view really – and the movement in the Tyrone full-forward line was awful.

They’d get to a point in the field where you’d need some creativity, or a bit of balls to really go for the kick.

But, too many of them were happier to handpass the ball because it was a safer option.

Now, Kerry’s defence was unbelievably well organised on Sunday. They were fit, strong and tenacious in the tackle.

There was someone always there to snuff out the danger. At no stage did I feel that Tyrone would open them up.

Tyrone won’t win an All-Ireland playing that way. Although, I don’t believe they’ll be that bad again. It just didn’t happen for a couple of their bigger players and Kerry capitalised on that.

Keane to build from the back

Peter Keane didn’t set out to be defensive, he’s doing things in blocks. He’s probably sorting out the Kerry defence first.

He’s got to build on that, but The Kerry public will have been happy with the win.

I was impressed with their game management. They knew the few players Tyrone had that were capable of kicking scores and they didn’t give them the opportunity to get their shots off.

Keane handed out three debuts last Sunday and they all did their part.

Shane Ryan looked solid in goals and at one stage I saw him barking at Peter Crowley, and that’s good to see him have the confidence to do that to one of the experienced lads. His kick-outs were solid too.

Diarmuid O’Connor worked hard and got on ball, but I was very impressed with Dara Moynihan.

He was brave and constantly showing for it in conditions that weren’t ideal for forwards. When he got it he was busy. It was great to see him being positive with the ball and trying to make things happen.

If I had to give Peter Keane a grade on his first outing as Kerry boss, I’d give him a ‘B’. We won’t go mad!

It was the first game of the National League after all. The weather wasn’t great and quite a few of Tyrone’s bigger names didn’t perform.

They’ll get tougher challenges, but I was really taken by Kerry’s organisation. They played like a real unit, even though they haven’t had many weeks together.

No sympathy for Smith

I saw the alleged eye-gouging incident between Donie Smith and Keith Higgins on Saturday night.

I’ve had it happen to me in the past, I’ve seen it happen to other players and there’s no getting away from it – it’s ugly. It’s very wrong.

You look back at old games, 20 or 30 years ago, and two fellas would stand face to face and give each rap a on the jaw, there would be a red card or two and it would be done and dusted.

You’d kind of begrudgingly respect that, there was nothing sly or sneaky in it.

Stuff like eye-gouging and fingers into the mouth must be stamped out.

It looks awful and the GAA are going to have to be strong on it.

I’m sure Smith is probably regretting it now, but I reckon he’s in trouble.

You don’t want to see anyone suspended and missing game time, but when you make an error of judgement like that you have to pay the price.

There has to be consequences, otherwise what’s to stop someone else doing it?

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What do you think?