Aidan O’Mahony: Cillian O’Connor isn’t near the Gooch’s league just yet

Give me Colm Cooper any day of the week!

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It was a fantastic performance by Kerry last Sunday and for 50 minutes they played an unbelievable brand of football. Their big players really stood up, Shane Enright and David Moran had brilliant games.

The midfield was the springboard for all of Kerry’s good work, Moran and Adrian Spillane were totally dominant there. That meant there was plenty of ball going into the forwards and David Clifford was just in a league of his own.

Mayo came into it in the last 15 minutes alright, but the game was already over at that stage. If Kerry can keep performing to that level, they’ll certainly be one of the teams that can rattle Dublin.

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Expectations exceeded

A lot of the talk during the week was that this was a ‘must-win’ game. Kerry were at home, it was the first round of the Super 8s and going on last year, any team that didn’t win their first game of Super 8s, didn’t qualify for the All-Ireland semi-final.

With Donegal to come at Croke Park, you could just see the importance of this game.

It was especially important to the younger lads in the Kerry side too, because they’d lost to Mayo twice already this year.

It absolutely was the performance of the year from any team. Kerry were at a different level, it was total football from Kerry.

The movement of the forwards was unbelievable to watch. The hard runs they were making made it very difficult for the Mayo backs to stay with them. It was the perfect game from them.

That’s all well and good, but they are facing a different animal next week in Donegal. That’s another big game for Kerry, it will be a mentally testing for them because they’ll be coming up against one of the best full forward lines in the country, and certainly one of the best midfields in the game.

Give me Kerry’s forwards over Dublin’s

What you have to remember about these Dublin forwards is that they’ve been there and they’ve done it on All-Ireland final days. They also have Diarmuid Connolly back now.

Over the years, even while I was still playing, Dublin’s forwards always made impacts when they came in. I also saw that characteristic in Kerry last Sunday, Dara Moynihan and Micheal Burns came in and wanted ball straight away.

Paul Geaney got 1-2 and he’s probably still not back to his best, that’s great for Kerry. Stephen O’Brien was industrious as ever, the amount of work he gets through is scary. James O’Donoghue has another game under his belt and David Clifford is our stand-out player.

If I was forced to pick between the two sets of forwards, I’d take Kerry’s over Dublin’s though.

They’re young and they’re hungry. Dublin have fantastic attackers, I’d never question their credentials with the amount of All-Ireland medals they have. But, I’d still choose Kerry’s.

These young lads coming through have got no fear. The lads who didn’t start against Mayo may have been disappointed, but they didn’t let it get to them and they came on to lay down a marker for the next day.

Congrats Cillian, but he’s no Gooch

At 27 years of age, it’s a massive record for Cillian O’Connor to be the top scorer in the history of the Championship.

But, he’s not in the same league as the Gooch.

Colm Cooper did things in games that other players just couldn’t do. At the moment, O’Connor is not at the level or in that league. His score exploits have been excellent though.

The importance of a freetaker in the modern game is huge and even though he missed a penalty, he kept Mayo in the game with his frees.

You take your hat off to him for gaining the record, but to he has a nice bit to go to get to Gooch’s level.

Donegal contest is crucial

The Donegal game is enormous. Winning is a habit and if you are going forward as a team you can’t lose it. If you top the table you can avoid Dublin until the final too.

For this team’s confidence going forward, they need to beat Donegal though. Donegal have one of the best keepers in the country at the moment, so they’ll probably get more primary possession than Mayo did against Kerry and then the question will be, can Kerry stop their running game?

It will be interesting to watch it unfold and how they’ll cope with the likes of Ryan McHugh, Michael Murphy, Paddy McBrearty and Jamie Brennan – who is playing the football of his life at the moment.

It’s a big task for Kerry, but it’s a great game to have at the same time.

Welcome back Diarmuid

From a defender’s point of view, Connolly is very similar to David Clifford to mark.

The stuff he can do with the ball is outrageous.

Bringing Connolly back is a masterstroke from Gavin and you would have to take your hat off to him. Connolly’s return will mean that there’s players on the Dublin panel who are going to lose out to him and that creates competition.

He’s a huge addition for them and he’s just different than another else. I’m delighted to see him back because the GAA needs a Diarmuid Connolly.

He’s once in a generation talent and you don’t want to see guys like him going to America. You want him here with people paying in to see the likes of him and David Clifford.

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