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‘I feel Kerry have been hiding a dial until now’ – O’Sullivan

Former half-forward feels that the Kingdom will be back in a final if they remain patient against the Ulster defence and shut out McGuigan

Kerry legend Seán O’Sullivan believes the Kingdom have enough all-round power to overcome Derry this weekend in Croke Park.

That’s only if they bring the same energy they had against Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

The Oak Leaf County have been one of the most defensive and disciplined sides of 2023.

But the former Kerry star feels that if their side builds a lead early on and shuts out Derry’s key men, then the reigning Munster champions will be too strong for the Ulster winners.

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“To set down a marker, yes the big men need to lead from the off, but the scorers against a defence like Derry’s are going to have to come from other players too,” said O’Sullivan.

“The likes of Adrian Spillane, Dara Moynihan and Graham O’Sullivan are going to have to create other options when the likes of the Cliffords are being targeted.

“We have plenty of scorers, it’s just about bringing that team game to Croke Park this weekend.”

While O’Sullivan – a four-time All-Ireland winner with Kerry – praises Derry’s improvement over the last year, he still feels that their game is predictable to suss out and they don’t have an effective Plan B.

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He also believes that his own county can match the Ulster side defensively.

“We know when Derry play it’s going to be a tough watch, but they’ll claim it’s effective.

“They had their issues with their change in management up there, but they’re still playing off the same hymn sheet, still dropping players back. Credit to them for sticking at it.

“I just think Derry won’t have enough to trouble us.

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“People don’t seem to talk about Kerry’s defence that much, and I feel if we bring that same bite that we had against Tyrone, then Derry are going to find it very hard to score against us.”

With regards to how Derry set up, O’Sullivan feels that his county will need to nullify the opposition’s defence by pulling their full-forwards out to get on more ball and shoot from distance.

“The inside line is going to be clogged up, so we need to get players like David Clifford, Seán O’Shea and Paul Geaney to come further out and shoot from distance.

“They’re capable of doing it and that stops Derry’s defensive plan. It forces Derry to come out and meet them and that then creates gaps in their defence.

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“Kerry needs to get into the right areas and then take their shots, so, patience is going to be massive on Sunday.

“You feel if they get their scores and open up that breathing space, then Derry will struggle.”

Speaking on the Kerry Football Podcast, the Cromane man believes that the Kingdom should set up similar to the way they did against Tyrone, by allowing the opposition to get the kickouts and turning them over in their own half.

“In terms of the kickout, I think Kerry will concede it and let Derry get possession. It’s worked for them all season.

“They usually allow the opposition to have the ball, they invite you in and then they smother you, turn you over and break on the counter.

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“I know people worry that Kerry don’t like playing against a team that plays a slow game like Derry do, but I don’t recall Tyrone playing with any real tempo.

“The last day, they never moved the ball quickly into Darragh Canavan to create a one-on-one, so I think Kerry will cope with that slow match play.

“It just feels like we’ve been hiding a dial until now, saving their best for Croke Park.

“I believe we have enough in the engine and now we have experience from the past to get us through these matches,” O’Sullivan said.

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