HomeFootballJack O’Connor makes no apologies for Kerry’s eyesore win over Derry

Jack O’Connor makes no apologies for Kerry’s eyesore win over Derry

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The game has left its bruises on Jack O’Connor enough times for him not to worry about anyone’s sensibilities.

He didn’t come out after the game trying to peddle any kind of fantasy about what we’d all just seen. It was dour and it was low on entertainment. Hard on the eyes and tough on the soul.

But Kerry are through. They matched Derry stink for stink until the final quarter before gradually pulling away. He has no apologies lying about the place to offer up, either. The result is in the books. Nothing else matters.

“If you think you can play a kind of gung-ho open football against that type of structure then that’s not living in the real world,” said O’Connor. “The last thing you need to be doing is kicking away loose ball to a team like that who can seriously hurt you on the counterattack because of their pace.

“So you can’t blame players for being a little bit cautious. But we spoke at half-time of players being a little bit braver, being more energetic. If that’s trying to open up the game then that’s the language you need to use.”

It was put to him that maybe the onus was on Kerry to bring a little more to the table. Derry had to be tired after their exertions three weeks on the trot and so they were always going to come here and hang on for dear life. Could Kerry not have kicked long a little more, as they had in the first half for David Clifford’s mark? Jack wasn’t having it.

“David Clifford caught it between two Derry men,” he said. “It wasn’t as if it was one-on-one. So like you can kick in the odd one of those balls, 100 per cent. But like, most of the time, if there’s two v one, the two are going to come out with it.

“And it’s such an energy-sapping game to play – giving away the ball kills you. So I can see why players are a bit cautious. But I agree, we needed to bring more energy, which we did in the second half. And we needed to be braver and commit more players ahead of the ball to allow pivots develop and runners coming off. It’s a different game. There wasn’t a huge amount of space to kick ball inside. And that’s credit to Derry, they blocked up those channels.”

This has always been the Kerry way, of course. Their history is based on winning football, whatever that happens to be at any given time. Mickey Harte has faced them in every guise possible at this stage. He was never coming here thinking he’d be lucky enough that Kerry might decide to give it the Harlem Globetrotters treatment.

“Doesn’t surprise me at all,” said the Derry manager. “Because Kerry wouldn’t be Kerry if they weren’t able to adapt and adjust to the way the game’s going. They can be innovative and they can be stubborn and they can be all those things as required in the modern game.

“And they are open-minded enough to know that if the game and the trend of the game changes, then you better change with it or you’re not going to get the results you want. So I think Kerry wouldn’t be behind the door about seeing what needed to be done and implementing it.”

And what of Derry’s fall since the league, now that it’s over?

“I suppose the nature of our defeats was the big thing. It wasn’t just that we were beaten. We were beaten badly by Donegal and Armagh. And we had a crazy kind of a battle with Galway in terms of losing the man and all of that. So I wouldn’t see it as such a bad outcome. And we know now where Galway are. They’re a pretty useful side that we were up against that day.

“So yeah, it is disappointing. But look it, that’s life at this level. You give it your best shot. When you believe you have people of the quality required to go to the top, then you like to be getting as close to that top as possible. And we didn’t get close enough this year. So it’s going to be very disappointing, all told.”

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