LISTEN: Matt O’Callaghan – “below par” Kerry no match for Mayo

Matt O’Callaghan spoke with Sporting Limerick following the weekend’s All Ireland football semi-finals.

On Saturday evening, thousands of Mayo and Kerry supporters made the long trip to Croke Park for a second time in the space of a week to see which side would book a place in September’s final.

Before last Sunday’s semi-final between the two sides, many were looking at Kerry to ease past Mayo and guarantee their place in another All Ireland final. However, as has been the case with this Mayo side all summer, the strong underdogs put up a resilient performance when people least expected them to and they matched Kerry in every facet of the game and were unlucky not to come away with a victory in the end.

It was a whole different ball game on Saturday and similar to their Quarter final replay against Roscommon, a stronger, more attack minded Mayo showed up, and it seemed as if nobody was going to stand in their way for either replay, and against a very good Kerry side came away with a comfortable 5 point win.

Matt O’Callaghan of the weekly observer believes Mayo have put to bed any “ghosts” after the semi final victory but was disappointed at the performance Kerry produced.

“It was their 9th game and they were going in against a side that have traditionally been their bogey team, they hadn’t beaten kerry for 21 years and kerry have a pretty formidable record  in replays but certainly mayo laid all those ghost on Saturday”

“it was a below par performance from kerry, that would not be fair to mayo but, it was an un-kerry like performance”

“it was one of the poorest performances I’ve seen from a kerry team in Croke Park  for a long long time.”

As is so often the case, Kerry went into both games as most people’s favourite and many even felt Kerry could go on to win the All Ireland this year after their victory in the league against such a formidable Dublin side who are now going for three in a row following their routine win over Tyrone on Sunday.

You can listen to Matt’s analysis of the games in full on the link below.

However, the Kerry side we expected to turn up simply didn’t and O’Callaghan feels the fact that they really haven’t been challenged yet this year caused Kerry to underperform on the big stage.

“coming into this series, the comprehensive victory over Galway might have camouflaged and masked certain short comings in the kerry team, that it was a kerry team that essentially really untested and… it was a kerry team that came into this series with question marks surrounding their defensive capabilities, and by god didn’t Mayo expose that.”

Although maybe Kerry didn’t perform to the best of their abilities, you cannot take away from the performance this Mayo side, who have been criticised so many times this year, especially after their provincial championship performance against Galway, produced at Croke Park on Saturday.

Kerry V Mayo highlights. Video credit RTÉ

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On Sunday Dublin met Tyrone in what was billed to be a huge clash of different style’s of football and was expected to be a real cracker, within the first quarter of the game it was clear, the game everyone had hoped for unfortunately wasn’t going to happen.

Dublin came away with a resounding 2-17 to 11 points victory on Sunday evening and set up a repeat of last years final against Mayo. O’Callaghan was hugely impressed by the Dubs performance on Sunday and admits they will be hard to stop come September 17th.

“I suppose theres only 1 word to describe it and that is awesome”  O’Callaghan said about their win over Tyrone

“Certainly they exposed, they exploited and they overcame the Tyrone defensive strategy”

There was also a lot made of the impressive performances Tyrone had shown in their Ulster title win as well as the quarter final hammering of Armagh but it seems as if Mickey Harte’s defensive strategy simply isn’t good enough to provide the county’s fourth All Ireland. Matt O’Callaghan agree the strategy won’t be good enough come September and might need to look at changing their game plan

Certainly Tyrone will have to go back to the drawing board”

“the defensive strategy that they have used successfully through ulster and that has got them so far the message maybe getting through now that it’s not good enough to win an All Ireland.”

The final is sure to be a fantastic match if Mayo’s “replay” side turn up and the Dublin side that everyone knows to be so ruthless, turns up too. Dublin will be favourites having won the back to back All Irelands and simply not looking like losing in any of their games this year. The majority felt that Tyrone would be Dublin’s biggest challenge but after seeing Mayo against Kerry O’Callaghan and I’m sure many others could not completely write them off.

“Mayo will be coming in a bit under the radar, no question at all about it, they will be rank outsiders, based on Dublin’s performance yesterday but I recall in 2013 and last year again they came in as rank outsiders and on the day its, all what happens on all Ireland final day.”

Even with Mayo’s impressive win over Kerry, O’Callaghan is realistic about their chances of causing an upset saying

“Rarely would a team have gone into an all Ireland final as raging hot favourites as Dublin will go in.”

However it’s not all doom and gloom for Mayo supporters from Matt’s point of view and believes the fact it’s a final can mean anything can happen no matter how strong the favourites are, which we have all seen happen at Croke Park before.

“A final is a final its all about 70 minutes and mayo have proved in the past that the underdogs tag suits them to a degree, they will give It their all.”

Dublin V Mayo is to be played on September 17th in Croke Park. In what has been a pretty average footballing season, it would be great if Mayo could really put it up to Jim Gavins men and brink back Sam McGuire to Mayo for the first time since 1951.

Dublin V Tyrone highlights on the video below. Video credit RTÉ

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