Stopping Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey is key to Kerry’s chances in the All-Ireland final replay, according to ex-Meath star Paddy O’Rourke.
The Kingdom managed to nullify many of the Sky Blues’ main threats two weeks ago, as Brian Fenton, Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion were kept quiet. However, Clontarf man McCaffrey ran riot, scoring 1-3 from play.
O’Rourke feels that it’s not as simple as Kerry assigning just one marker to keep tabs on the 2015 Footballer of the Year.
“I don’t think they have one person that will go with him (McCaffrey) for 70 minutes,” opined O’Rourke on the AIB GAA Podcast.
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“If you look at his scores in the second half, Paul Murphy dropped back in front of the full-back line for Kerry. Dublin said ‘Jack, push up on him so he’s not free’ and he scored two points – one with left and one with the right. Kerry will have to mix it – they need lads on the park who are quick-thinking, who are going to go with him.
“Lads will have to tactically foul, as they say, to curb his influence. The goal came from him taking off and not one person crossing his run, putting a hand across his chest, pulling his jersey – just doing the dark arts that you’d expect for a team to get across the line. There is going to have to be a common bond there across the half-back line, midfield and half-forwards, to take it in turns to go with him and frustrate him and stop him getting on the end of those moves.”
Ex-Kerry star Colm Cooper disagreed, suggesting Keane must commit one player to the task, with the sole focus of following McCaffrey.
Dublin’s numerical disadvantage may have suited the flying wing-back in the drawn game.
“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,” explained Cooper.
“He’s in a league of his own in terms of how he attacks.
Cooper added: “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…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.”