AIB hosted a special night of chat around all things football in Dublin last night calling on some of their staff who occasionally double up as people of some importance within GAA circles.
Stephen Rochford works for the bank in Mayo, even though his allegaince now is to the Donegal back room team and he has been in the news this week drafted in as a replacement on the Sunday game Live for Joe Brolly.
Coman Goggins, a long time star for Dublin plays a key role in bringing together all of the excellence in GAA that exists within the bank and was a voice of confidence on the AIB GAA Podcast that Dublin would come through on Saturday night.
Colm Cooper was equally positive, albeit in that understated Kerry way, that his former teammates would be travelling with victory in mind.
Oisin Langan was in the chair, Sam Maguire was in the house and by all accounts a great night was had by all.
Here are some of the thoughts of Goggins and Cooper as expressed on the AIB GAA Podcast.
Thoughts on the game?
“The expectancy has gone up in Kerry because, if we’re honest, I don’t think we knew if we were up at Dublin’s level, and how we would perform. They certainly showed that they are there or thereabouts, that they’re knocking on the door, and on another day… they probably should have won it, being honest. We’re not kidding ourselves, Dublin will be better and if I analyse the game, I would say four to five Dublin players would be happy with their performance. Outside of that, I think there’s a load of room for improvement. We have room to improve too and, putting all of that into the mix, it’s just so beautifully poised and that’s why everyone is looking forward to it.”
You don’t buy into the idea that Kerry missed their chance?
“No, I don’t think so. They certainly had their chance and should have won the match. Kerry have a lot of quality in the team — I know there are a lot of young players there and that’s why I think the second time around, they should be even more comfortable in Croke Park. If you had said David Clifford, Paul Geaney and Stephen O’Brien wouldn’t be the chief scorers for Kerry, the Dubs would have bit your arm off for that before the game. So there’s improvement in those guys, and I think that’s what Kerry are feeling. They coped well. The big questions for Kerry the last day were how would they cope with Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion? They did pretty well, as well as any team over the past number of years. That’s why people are so encouraged and it’s leading into the match where people think Dublin will improve, but I think there’s another 10% in Kerry as well.
Will Kerry push up on kickouts?
“I think Kerry have to be brave, they have to be courageous. That’s why Dublin wallop teams — they are beaten before a ball is kicked because they put two men back and then Dublin just eat you up. You have to take chances. Kerry pushed up on the kickouts — they were very good in the first half, could have had another 2-3 or 2-4 possibly by taking chances. It was probably a bit easier in the second half with an extra man but Kerry will take chances, push up, and will get exposed at times.
Jack McCaffrey threat?
“On Jack McCaffrey, I think Dublin going down to 14 men suited McCaffrey because the Kerry guys were puzzled and passed him on saying ‘you pick him up’ and it took away the accountability and responsibility of guys — and you can’t do that with Jack McCaffrey. He’s in a league of his own in terms of how he attacks; Ryan McHugh is a good player but he doesn’t have the same scoring potential. What I would like Kerry and Peter Keane to do is: whoever is picking up Jack McCaffrey, your focus is solely on him, and don’t worry about what’s going on around you. Last day I was working for the radio and, when I was looking down, Jack McCaffrey spent most of his time operating in the centre-forward area, and was running onto things and the Kerry guys weren’t sure who was to pick him up. That’s not good enough from a Kerry point of view and Peter will do a lot of work on that. Will Stephen O’Brien pick him up, will someone else? We don’t know but I would be surprised if Jack has the same impact as the last day. Similarly, Sean O’Shea was given way too much space by Dublin in the second half and ended up kicking three points from play after half-time coming through the middle of the Dublin defence — something you never see. Midway through that second half, I think there was a bit of chaos and you probably wouldn’t have seen that if both teams had fifteen — it would be more structured.
The Dubs surely won’t misfire again, will they?
“I’d probably be a little bit more nervous than a fortnight ago — not that I had expected Dublin to run away with it anyway. Just that they demonstrated a level of abilities above every other team to go on and win an All-Ireland up until two weeks ago, whereas there is a question mark now. Kerry have got at them now, they’ve developed their own belief and feel they can match them (Dublin) now. I think keeping 15 players on the field is important — you don’t really know how much influence it had. Fifteen minutes to play in the All-Ireland final with a chance to go six points up, and John Small’s chance doesn’t go over the bar — Shane Ryan kicks the ball out and the ball is in the net at the other end and all the momentum is with Kerry. Fine margins across the teams — can you expect all fifteen to perform, can you expect Jack McCaffrey to get 1-3? Probably not. There are tiny margins for lads to play well — both teams will look to improve and keep fifteen on the field. Dublin will still believe but Kerry are thinking ‘we’ve lived with these guys, asked questions, and we left 2-4 behind us in the first half arguably’. So they feel they can challenge Dublin and Dublin need to come up with answer for players to get better.