Kerry fans were worried at half-time on Sunday alright. Before the game, you would have predicted a dogfight and so it proved.
Kerry started off very slow and Tyrone got on top, so at half-time we were praying that the big players would step up and the Kerry guys did just that in the second period.
Tyrone really should have gone into the break further ahead than they did. The big thing in these games is being clinical in front of goal and not leave a team a chance to get back into, but Tyrone failed to do that.
Despite their utter dominance in the first half, Kerry were still in the game.
If Tyrone had got a goal before the break we could have had a very different story altogether, but Kerry hit a patch in the second half and they had the forwards to carry a greater goal threat.
Tyrone frustrated Kerry for a long time though, but I knew in Peter Keane and Donie Buckley that Kerry had the know-how on the sideline to fix the trouble they were in.
Buckley is well used to playing against that Tyrone defensive system and, eventually, Kerry got their match-ups right.
Keane class showed at half-time
The switches Keane made at the break should answer any questions about him as a manager.
The biggest compliment you can give him is, that he’s not afraid to make calls.
He brought in Jack Sherwood, who had a massive half. Tommy Walsh came on as well, on the edge of the square and he was setting up scores for fun. He was fouled on numerous occasions too.
Those are the calls you have to be willing to make to be a top manager, sometimes they backfire on you, but you still have to have the balls to make them.
You’d have to hand it to Peter, he brought on runners to go at Tyrone and it totally changed the game.
Super Stephen to the rescue
Stephen O’Brien is in the form of his life.
He’s one of those players that you hate marking because he keeps coming at you. He popped at the right time again in the Tyrone game, scoring 1-02. He’s industrious and does work off the ball that you wouldn’t see.
Stephen has brought a new level to his play and the confidence is just flowing through him.
Whereas before he’d play with his head down, now he plays with the head up and his chest out. He’s certainly in Footballer of the Year contention at the moment.
It will be a calamity for Kerry if he’s banned
I watched Stephen O’Brien’s black card incident against Meath a couple of weeks ago and that wasn’t a black card.
It doesn’t come near the category of a black card at all. If anything, the Meath player was trying to stop Stephen’s progress not the other way around. He got his third black card of the year on Sunday against Tyrone and now he’s banned for the final.
He has to be allowed to play against Dublin though.
It will be a massive injustice if he doesn’t get to play in it. He has to get off that ban.
Are you really going to deny him an All-Ireland final appearance? You can’t take the biggest day of his life away from him because of silly black cards.
It would be a calamity for Kerry if he was banned, but I can’t see it happening.
David Gough shouldn’t be allowed to ref the All-Ireland final, he lives in Dublin and you need a neutral referee, that’s how I feel.
It would take questions about his performance away from him if he’s not selected to referee it. With Dublin going for five-in-a-row, it puts huge pressure on him to given that he lives in the capital.
I believe you need an outside referee – who doesn’t live in Dublin – to ref that final.
Gough is undoubtedly in the top three or four referees in the country, but Croke Park must pick a neutral for the final.
For someone based in Dublin, I really don’t believe the GAA should put that kind of pressure on Gough by picking him to be in charge.
Walsh never gave up
Tommy Walsh has been around for years and if it was another player, they’ve have walked away and said: “My time is up, I’ll concentrate on my club”.
But he persisted in training to play for Kerry. That’s the Tommy Walsh I know and I was delighted with how he played against Tyrone. He really changed that game.
It’s a big call on whether to start him in the All-Ireland final. Would he cause Dublin trouble inside? He certainly would. He’s a lot to handle, especially now that his fitness and confidence are up. He’s very close to his heights in 2009.
Personally, I would start him against Dublin.
But then, who loses out? Paul Geaney, David Clifford and Stephen O’Brien are in All-Star form, so you also have the luxury of bringing Tommy on as a sub too. I’d be surprised if the Kerry management selects him to start, but if they make that call, I’m all for it!