The Monday blog: Kerry's end is nigh
By Ciaran Woods
Those of you who were following our tweets on Sunday afternoon will know this already, but for the benefit of the few who have not yet signed up to the #GLCOMMENT phenomenon, bear with me.
I said at half-time in yesterday’s game that the second half of the All-Ireland quarter-final clash was going to tell us much about Kerry and where they stand at present. There’s no doubting that the current incumbants of the famous green and gold jersies have been one of the greatest to ever play the game, but it would appear that their best days are behind them. Not because of aging legs, or of miles on the clock, but simply because the hunger is gone.
With so much silverware already gathered, what is there left to motivate this Kerry group? Donegal this year are motivated from within, their overwhelming and bursting desire to succeed. Their motivation is positive, it is aimed at maximising their own performances and to achieve the best they can. For themselves, for their people.
Kerry’s players, and quite probably their manager, don’t have that any more. They’ve reached the dizzy heights so many times that now the views from those heights don’t even seem as impressive any more. They can’t motivate from within, so instead they look externally.
Their clash with Tyrone was different for the green and gold animal because it provided fuel to their fire. The thought of Tyrone stoked the flames within them. It was an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past, to salvage some sense of pride from the wreckage of 03, 05 and 08. Their desire was not to win for themselves, but to beat the opposition. That’s a very small but very important psychological difference.
Yesterday when Kerry’s hunger and desire was questioned, they found no answer. When the tactical questions were put to them, they came off second best. You saw Donegal players willing to quite literally put their bodies on the line in their bid for glory, the same cannot be said of the Munster men.
There is no shame in reaching the end of the line. It happens in all walks of life, particularly in sport. When you achieve so much, it’s hard to keep going down that same path again and again. The hunger dies. The problem for Kerry is how they go about getting it back.
Great servants will be lost as a result of Sunday’s game. The O Se’s, Galvin, Brosnan and possibly others may never again grace Croke Park. Their prospective replacements simply don’t seem to be up to the same standard, not yet at least. A fortunate goal gave them a lifeline and a second bite at the cherry on Sunday, but for a second time they failed to finish the job when the opportunity was given to them. Donegal raised their level, and in the end got their reward.
In order to get hungry, you have to spend some time away from the table. A successful All-Ireland run for Kerry next year would only once again lull them into a false sense of security, when the truth is that what would be of greater benefit to them in the long run is a stint in the championship wilderness.