Kerry young players have grown into men, says Jim McGuinness after Kingdom's dominant win over Clare
The Sky Sports pundits give their thoughts after Kerry and Mayo recorded comprehensive victories on Saturday. Jim McGuinness said of the Kingdom: "They're in phenomenal shape. There's absolutely no doubt about that. The young lads have grown into men."
Last Updated: 29/06/21 7:04am
Kerry are up and running in the 2021 Championship, as the Kingdom laid down an early marker with a 3-22 to 1-11 win over Clare in Killarney.
Peter Keane's side were too strong for their visitors. Although they hit some uncharacteristically wayward shots among their 11 wides, Jim McGuinness feels that they will not be worried.
"Not overly," said the former Donegal manager when asked if it was a cause for concern.
"What we're trying to do here is we're trying to look at Kerry through the prism of Dublin, because Dublin are the benchmark.
"One thing that stood out for me is Kerry's conditioning. They're in phenomenal shape. There's absolutely no doubt about that. The young lads have grown into men, there's no doubt about that either. Their strength and their running power, from [number] 8 up is top, top quality.
"So they're ticking an awful lot of boxes that puts them in the position and rightly so to say they're contenders for this year's All-Ireland.
"And that's why we're zeroing in on these one or two things, because they're the tiny things that possibly could get jammed coming down the stretch against a top, top team. And that's basically it. So from a Kerry point of view, they'll go home, they'll try and zero in on where they feel the marginal gains will be found. But it's very fine margins.
"And that's what it is for three of four teams in the country."
Donaghy: Kerry were solid, not sensational
The 2006 Footballer of the Year said that his former team got the job done, but they should not be getting carried away.
"I don't think anybody is going to have any huge change of opinions after today," he outlined.
"Kerry had a job to do. I played against Clare many times in the Munster Championship. It's always a tough game, depending on where they're at, because if you don't go and perform well, the Kerry public are asking questions; 'You're not moving well. What's happening? Are you over-training?' They all have theories.
"If you go up and play really well and put them to the sword, the other side of it comes out where 'they were no good', 'ye should be doing that all the time'.
"It's a tough place, this type of a game for Kerry. But they came out, they did a job, they weren't sensational, they were solid. They scored well, and they certainly have stuff to work on."
'Mayo morphing into a running team'
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, Mayo put Sligo to the sword, dismantling the Yeats County in a professional manner.
McGuinness noted how James Horan's charges are looking to set up.
"I think it's safe to say after today that they are morphing into a running team. Time and time and time again, they're doing that," he commented.
"To be a really good running team the final ball is really important.
"There was a couple of occasion in the Clare game and [against Sligo], it was like flicking a switch. You won the ball in your own half, you're aggressive, you're supporting the ball, it's straight lines, it's transitional football. There's a lot of intensity in it, and a lot of aggression in it.
"So at the last moment, you've got to slow down, make sure of the final pass to pop the ball over the bar. And sometimes that final pass is the hardest part to do in really aggressive transitional football.
"It wasn't brilliant in the Clare game. And there was a couple of instances in the first half [against Sligo]. That's nitpicking in terms of Mayo, but I think that's one area in big games that you've got to be able to go from 100 to 70, relax, make sure that final pass is perfect and the ball goes over the bar.
"That tiny thing for me is probably one area for me that they could probably look at moving forward."
Donaghy: Bigger tests lie ahead for westerners
Mayo face Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final, and Kieran Donaghy expects the reigning provincial champions to reach another Nestor Cup decider with minimal fuss.
"They're thinking about a Connacht final now in four weeks," he said.
"What they've been used to the last number of years is big games. For these guys, that's what it's about at this stage. It's not about trying to add on huge scores against Sligo, because you're not going to get any huge pats on the back for it. They were just ruthless with what they did.
"The strength and conditioning, and the power, it's so evident. We know Mayo have that.
"What they will be working on over the next few weeks is trying to get ready for that Connacht final, where you're going to come up against a hurting Galway side after what happened to them against Monaghan in the last game of the league, or a Roscommon side that are out to prove a point. That's the first real test where we'll get to see where Mayo are it."