Former Kerry captain Dara Ó Cinnéide and former Mayo player Billy Joe Padden were on Off the Ball to preview Sunday’s crucial match-up.
Kerry welcome Mayo to Killarney on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the Super 8s in what is expected to be the game of the weekend.
Mayo have redeemed themselves after their loss to Roscommon in the Connacht Championship by beating Down, Armagh and Galway in the qualifiers.
Kerry are currently unbeaten after winning their seventh straight Munster title but have faced criticism after a defensively frail performance against Cork. However, Ó Cinnéide certainly wasn’t writing them off.
"I don’t think Kerry are as bad as people make out. They got to a league final, they got beaten by Mayo twice this year on St Patrick’s weekend and in the national league final. There is progress being made, they certainly have legs.
"Mayo will have huge energy between 5 and 12 but Kerry have that energy as well. It’s just about boxing clever now. They have the forwards and I think there is an expectation in the Kerry public that there is a performance in this team,” Ó Cinnéide said.
Billy Joe Padden was buoyed on from Mayo’s recent performances in their qualifier campaign but was worried that fatigue may well catch up with James Horan’s side.
“We know under James Horan Mayo are going to play the same brand of football. Mayo are going to go at it from the first minute and they’re going to get their opportunities.
“Now whether they can sustain the energy levels required for that type of game over the three weeks having just gone through what they had with the three qualifier games will be a big question mark for me.
“I just worry for them in the last twenty minutes against Kerry in a big wide pitch and what’s been promised as a reasonably hot day as well. It’s going to be difficult for them,” Padden commented.
Home advantage could be crucial
While Kerry should have the advantage going into Sunday’s game with their home ground of Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney being the venue, there will be the added pressure of knowing a loss could be critical to their hopes of making the semi-finals.
Mayo won’t feel the same pressure, knowing that they still have a home game and a day out in Croke Park to come, according to Padden.
“If Mayo are to lose and Kerry are to win, Mayo still have that chance of going to Croke Park against Meath and then having their home game as the very last fixture against Donegal. So I think more of the pressure will be on Kerry but at the same they have the advantage of being fresh.
They’ve had a good chance to look at Mayo, their strengths and weaknesses. Mayo will be dealing with a bit of fatigue where Kerry probably have had a decent rest coming into it,” Padden explained.
Ó Cinnéide agreed that more pressure will be on the Kerry footballers to perform than their counterparts, but wasn’t dismissing the effect that Fitzgerald stadium will have on the home team.
“It’s 24 years since Kerry lost in Killarney… Killarney is very much still the home pitch of Kerry football.
“It has that feel to it, it’s a place I always loved playing in, it’s a place every Kerry footballer loves playing in. As they say, there’s no safety net and there’s no excuses if they don’t perform,” Ó Cinnéide said.
Elsewhere in the Super 8s, Roscommon take on Tyrone in Dr. Hyde Park and Dublin will face Cork in Croke Park, both on Saturday. The other fixture on Sunday will see Kerry and Mayo’s group rivals Donegal and Meath face off in Ballybofey.