Philly McMahon: I’d worry for Kerry – they didn’t show any ‘fight’ in Mayo defeat

Philly McMahon, former Dublin footballer, pictured at the EirGrid Timing Sponsorship launch at Beann Eadair GAA club in Howth. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Donnchadh Boyle

All-Ireland champions Kerry will have to make running repairs if they are to retain Sam Maguire, according for former Dublin star Philly McMahon.

McMahon expects Jack O’Connor’s side to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat to Mayo, their first SFC loss in Killarney in 28 years, but warns they have work to do.

“I would worry about Kerry yeah,” McMahon said at the EirGrid Timing sponsorship launch in Croke Park. “I would have been one of those people that was like, ‘Ah look, the league was a bit of a blip based off them coming back late’ – something like we would have experienced (with Dublin).

“But that’s a big scalp Mayo took down there in Kerry, convincingly beating them. It was one of those games where the brilliance of (David) Clifford and a couple of other players probably kept it a bit tighter than what it should have been.”

Kerry’s march to last year’s All-Ireland was built on a solid defensive structure that saw them concede just one goal in the 2022 championship. Kerry shipped 1-19 with Mayo spurning several other goal chances.

“I just didn’t see the fight in Kerry that you’d normally see. They just got cut open again. It was the old defensive Kerry you would have seen – gaps everywhere, didn’t really deal with (Aidan) O’Shea in terms of him moving players around because they were gravitating towards him but I just didn’t see a fight in Kerry. That’s your home ground, you want the old saying ‘die with your boots on’.

“In the group stage now, they have a couple of games to work on things and get things right. It’s one of those things it is very hard to retain an All-Ireland no matter who you are.

“We struggled, twice. Obviously (after) 2011 we didn’t win it in 2012 and (after) 2013, we struggled so it took us two attempts to do back-to-back. Maybe we are seeing a little bit of that, a little bit of complacency there that you wouldn’t be able to put your finger on – you just don’t know but I wouldn’t write Kerry off now. The group stage will help them.”

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