John Evans reflects on Kerry’s season so far as they head for the final game of the group stages against Mickey Harte’s Louth.
John Evans wants his native Kerry to move away from defensive football.
The All-Ireland champions have been unimpressive to date during this year’s campaign, winning Munster before entering the national competition.
Mayo outplayed the Kingdom in the group-stage opener before Jack O’Connor’s men saw off Cork narrowly in the second game.
This weekend, Kerry take on Mickey Harte’s Louth and, while Evans believes his county will win, he is not brimming with confidence.
“There is a lot of dissatisfaction with Kerry down here,” says the former Tipperary, Roscommon and Wicklow boss.
“A while back we were waiting for Gavin White, Paul Murphy and Paul Geaney to come back, and everything will be sorted. It wasn’t and it isn’t.
“Kerry are not firing and I think they will be using this game to reestablish, one, a bit of confidence and, two, more players coming into the play rather than the usual David Clifford, Paudie Clifford, and Sean O’Shea in the first half in the previous game.
“Louth have learned an awful lot, they have come up through the ranks, and I think they are growing in confidence… they have great forwards and are kicking over points.”
Evans went on to speak of Kerry’s playing style, and how they need a confidence-booster at O’Moore Park.
“You’re putting your finger on a sore point here at the moment,” says Evans, who was asked about the impact of David Moran’s departure.
“Yeah we are disappointed by how the midfield is working out but previous to that, there was more than just Moran.
“He is a great loss but we had Diarmaid O’Connor on the wing who was an out-ball, and Jack Barry his partner at midfield.
“But it is the strategy that is causing the problem with Kerry.
“They’re playing Dara Moynihan on one wing and Adrian Spillane on the other wing, but it’s not working or gelling yet.
“I would be an advocate for Adrian Spillane because he is a lot more aggressive, he can be overly-robust at times but that’s what we need.
“Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry are not controlling it the way we need it, and we got roasted against Mayo. They got taken to town.”
“There’s a lot of criticism down here towards apeing doing what northern teams have been doing,” Evans explains of the game plan.
“Jim McGuinness and Kieran McGeeney and defensive styles we’re adopting. They’re blaming poor old (Kerry coach and Tyrone native) Paddy Tally for all of this.
Host Shane Stapleton jumps in saying that Tally was hailed as the hero in 2022 when Kerry got across the line with a more pragmatic defensive set-up.
“Sure this is it, this is what I’m saying. The poor man can’t win.
“But our defence is so open and has been opened so easily.
“Kerry need to be more cohesive and this is where David Moran again is missed, because he was dropping back.
“Let’s face it, only for Shane Ryan against Mayo we would have been annihilated.”
KERRY v LOUTH
Kerry have won one and lost one of their first two games; Louth have lost both of their games.
- Kerry 0-25 Tipperary 0-5 (Munster quarter-final)
- Kerry 5-14 Clare 0-15 (Munster final)
- Mayo 1-19 Kerry 0-17 (All-Ireland Group 1)
- Kerry 1-14 Cork 0-15 (All-Ireland Group 1)
- David Clifford 3-21 (0-10 frees, 1-0 pen)
- Sean O’Shea 0-17 (0-9 frees, 0-3 ‘45s’)
- Tony Brosnan 1-6
- Paul Geaney 0-6
- Dara Moynihan 1-3
- Tom O’Sullivan 0-6
- Paudie Clifford 1-3
- Louth 2-10 Westmeath 1-11 (Leinster quarter-final)
- Louth 0-27 Offaly 2-15 aet (Leinster semi-final)
- Dublin 5-21 Louth 0-15 (Leinster final)
- Cork 1-19 Louth 1-17 (All-Ireland Group 1)
- Mayo 0-14 Louth 1-10 (All-Ireland Group 2)
- Sam Mulroy 1-31 (0-20 frees, 1-0 pen, 0-1 ‘45’)
- Ciaran Downey 0-12 (0-1 mark)
- Conor Grimes 0-9
- Liam Jackson 2-2
- Conor Early 0-6
*This will be their first championship meeting since the 1953 All-Ireland semi-final when Kerry won by 3-6 to 0-10.
*Louth manager Mickey Harte led Tyrone into six championship games against Kerry, winning the 2005 and 2008 All-Ireland finals and the 2003 semi-final and losing in 2012 (qualifier), 2015 and 2019 All-Ireland semi-finals.
*Kerry have conceded only one goal in their last five championship games (four this year, plus last year’s All-Ireland final)