Meyler makes a case for the defence

Meyler makes a case for the defence but admits attack failed to fire 
All-Ireland U-21 Hurling B - reaction
By Murt Murphy for
There is no doubt but that Kerry U-21 hurling boss John Meyler is a sports journalist dream. He is one a rare breed of managers who actually calls it as it is. No paranoia - no beating around the bush - no hard luck stories just a perceptive call of what he has witnessed on the field. Yes of course there are times when he has to be cautious on some issue that he cannot go on the record but he will tell off the record why, so that's why we like John Meyler - he calls a spade a spade and does not convince us that it's a form of a shovel.!!

So after Kerry's escape from Toomevara on Saturday, when they just held on for a one point win over Roscommon in the All-Ireland U-21 B semi final - how did team boss Meyler view the game
"I am happy enough with the win. I thought the backs were outstanding. I thought Brian Murphy, James O'Connor, Jason Bowler and Martin Stackpoole were excellent. Our half back line also played well. Maybe Patrick O'Keeffe was a bit jumpy to start off with but got into and Anthony Feely and Jason Leahy hurled well.
I thought our midfield got onto a lot of breaking ball, Brendan Brosnan and P J Keane were solid throughout but our attack failed to function- and that was it!
Now, Shane Nolan was carrying a heavy injury but having said that we have got to get our attack functioning for the final in three weeks time."

The Kerry boss is a not a manager who blames his tools but he did think that the Toomevara pitch did not help "Ah the pitch was fairly narrow and did not suit us and you can see there that the surface is very bump but that's not an excuse - our work rate was not good enough, our intensity was not at the level we needed. Roscommon had two matches in Connacht and they were together and you could see that, while we were having our first game. Now I know we had three matches down in Kerry against club sides, but those would lack the intensity of the real thing so that probably militated against us today"

But back to the attack who only managed six points from play in an hour and did not have one shot on goal "Look Shane Nolan had a fairly serious injury and fellows tend to stand back and leave it up to him, when they should be doing it themselves. Sean Weir did well because he caught a good few puck outs early on and scored a point. Remember Pa Joe Connolly is still a minor - he finished well and caught some good ball too but he is very young and has a lot to learn. The simple fact of the matter is that our half forward line did not function and we did not win enough primary possession there and so the inside line were not getting the supply of ball they needed."

The Kerry boss is very much looking to the future with this U-21 squad - and now he is hoping that the lads will move up a few notches for the final "We have three weeks now to prepare for the All-Ireland final meeting with Westmeath in Thurles. The lads will go back to their clubs now because they have County Championship in two weeks time and that should sharpen them up. I don't care where they line out for their clubs, because I looking at these lads in terms of where they will play with the senior team. I am looking at Brian Murphy will step up the plate. Anthony Fealy should step up to the plate. Brian Murphy could be a corner back, Fealy might be a centre back, Jason Leahy could play wing back. These lads can hurl - they catch the ball- they are good at striking - they are athletes"

While admitting that Roscommon were a fine side and ran Kerry close, Meyler never thought that they would beat Kerry " They would not have beaten us " he quipped when asked if Roscommon could have won. " We were short Darragh O'Connell and Padraig Boyle today who are two of our top intercounty forwards. We don't have them so we cant talk about. We will have Darragh for the final but unfortunately it looks like Padraig will be out for quite a while which is real tough look on the lad."

The Kerry boss summed it all up " Look I am not happy with the performance but we are there, in an All-Ireland Final. We struggled at times to get over the line but we got the result. I am disappointed with some of the fellows we had all year and its up to them to perform. We cannot be depending on Mikey Boyle and Tom Murnane to do it for them. But Brian Murphy , Stackpoole, Bowler, O'Connor, Feely and Leahy stepped up to the plate today along with Brosnan and PJ Keane all stepped up to the plate today. That showed me that they can play and now I must just harness six forwards for the final"