Donaghy: ‘If you want to win an All-Ireland, you’ve got to be winning all the Super 8s games’

September 19, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

IF KERRY ARE going to deny Dublin the five-in-a-row next month, Kieran Donaghy feels they must come out of the Super 8s group with three wins from three under their belt.

Coming off the back of the 10-point beating they handed out to Mayo, Peter Keane’s side will face an altogether different challenge in Donegal, who’ve now won eight league and championship games on the trot.

The back-to-back Ulster champions haven’t lost a game since their 0-13 to 0-10 Division 2 reversal to Fermanagh on 24 February, which came at a time when they were without a number of regulars.

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“When you get to this stage of the year, maybe Kerry got a lesson last year in the first game, it’s round-robin but if you want to win an All-Ireland, you’ve got to be winning all the games,” says Donaghy.

“You’ve got to come out of the Super 8s with a bit of confidence in your squad, players playing well and getting ready to go into a big do or die semi-final.

“If you start losing games in the middle and not performing well, it just puts doubt into a team where they don’t need doubt.

“I would say there would be a major focus. Kerry will know that Mayo underperformed the last day, Kerry will know they played well (too).

“If I was there in that dressing room, I would want the challenge of a Donegal because you know they are very, very good and they’re not going to give you possessions like Mayo did the last day.

“They will mind the ball better, they hold onto it and work it through the hands into certain areas. They’ll be a serious test for Kerry and if Kerry can come out of that, they’ll be in a good place.”

Kieran Donaghy and Tyrone legend Owen Mulligan at NOW TV’s Super 8s preview event.

The kick-out battle in Croke Park will be an intriguing one. David Clarke struggled to find a Mayo jersey with his restarts in Killarney due to Kerry’s effective full-court press. Kerry managed to turn over a good deal of Clarke’s short restarts and when he went long, David Moran lorded the airwaves.

Things will be a little trickier when they come up against Donegal stopper in the wide expanses of Croke Park.

“I think Mayo have a lot to do why they dominated the skies the last day,” remarks Donaghy. ” Mayo put it out there they didn’t have much of a plan and that’s going to be different against Donegal because they do have plans, they’ve loads of plans.

“Patton is probably up there behind Cluxton at the moment if you’re going with All-Star talk, maybe Morgan you’d throw him inside there for the job he’s doing for Tyrone with the sweeping and starting attacks and all that kind of stuff.

“But they’ve got a great understanding of situational kick-outs, Donegal. They know when to do the right thing and they look very well-organised. 

“So they’ll be a different kettle of fish in Croke Park, completely. But Kerry have to come up with a real sense of anger about how they haven’t played well in Croke Park recently.

“They have to really attack this game, like they did against Mayo and like Dave Moran did from the throw-in. I’d expect to see probably more of that by Kerry on Sunday.

“You have to do it these days, that’s your chance to set the tone. Dave and Adrian Spillane did set the tone the last day, Adrian got the jump ball and the Kerry crowd were out of their seats straight away and we’ll have to see more of that on Sunday.”

Kerry midfielder David Moran.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Donaghy hailed the resurgence of Moran, who lost his grandmother on the morning of the Mayo game.

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“It was a big game for David. His grandmother was after passing away that morning and his head would have been a bit scatty going into it. So I’d say the game was actually a bit of a relief to him.

“He was really good, his kick-passing was unbelievable but his kick-pass was always unbelievable. And he’s got balls to go for the hard pass, the pass that can open somebody up, which is good because a lot of fellas now don’t have the stomach to try and pull off the pass, they’ll go for the safer one, the ‘mind possession’ one. 

“Whereas if he sees a pass on he’ll go for it and he’ll take the groans from the crowd if he kicks it out over the sideline but nine times out of 10 he’s pretty on point with it. And Kerry need that because our inside line need early ball kicked in and Dave is the best man for that. There was a lot of ball kicked around the middle of the field.

“I think if Kerry are to do well this summer, probably pressing most teams and making teams try and kick it long and letting Dave and whoever else is out there compete for breaks. It’s probably a better way to go than letting teams have it short. 

“I was delighted for him. He’s had a niggling knee injury over the last year or so, so delighted he was out there looking fresh, feeling good, feeling healthy, sunny day in Killarney and I’m sure making his mom proud and delivering a good performance in the circumstances.”

Kerry forward James O’Donoghue.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

James O’Donoghue was withdrawn at half-time last weekend after enduring a difficult opening half, but Donaghy feels he can still find his best form this season.

“He just needs to loosen off and stay injury free, and just try and enjoy his football. He’s a wonderful player but he’s probably carrying a bit too much on his own shoulders at the moment.

“The frustration levels have not been healthy the last two or three years, picking up unfortunate injuries at unfortunate times during seasons. I’m sure he’s just trying to get a run of games and confidence in himself. Confidence is everything in sport.

“If James O’Donoghue, whether he starts on Sunday or whatever it is, it’s just about getting that confidence. Confidence can come at any stage during a game or a season.

“He’ll just have to keep plugging in there, keep going and he’s showing great determination to come back from all these injuries because they’ve been unfortunate ones.

“I hope for Kerry’s sake that he does continue to get healthier, keep playing and he does get more game practice, more match practice, match fitness, all that kind of stuff.”


Pictured at the NOW TV Super 8’s preview event were former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy, six-time All-Ireland winner and former Dublin footballer Paul Flynn, Donegal great Kevin Cassidy and former Tyrone sharpshooter Owen ‘Mugsy’ Mulligan.

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