Wednesday, 28 August 2013 Sports
Dublin and Kerry is probably the ultimate All-Ireland rivalry in football. It is the quintessential city folk against the "culchies" and through the late 70’s both sides served up some great All-Ireland finals and semi finals, with Kerry more often than not coming out on top.
The All-Ireland final of 2011 will undoubtedly still be in the minds of the Kerry players that were around two years ago, and there is few of them. Paul Galvin, the two O'Sullivans, Colm Cooper, the O'Sé brothers to name but a few are still the lynchpins of this Kerry team and while they have not looked particularly impressive through their run to the semi final, they have looked clinical.
Dublin has possibly the best forward six in the championship this season and they have put up some big scores but against weak teams. Somewhat similar to Mayo in Connaught, Dublin have put weaker teams to the sword quite easily and have not faced a serious test of their character up to this point.
Their defence is what really needs that test. Players like McCaffrey and Brennan are good going forward but whenever they have been put on the backfoot this season they looked suspect on occasions. The full back line in particular have not looked particularly strong when up against forwards willing to take them on, and the Kerry forwards will certainly do that.
Mayo got the test they needed against Tyrone last Sunday and came through with flying colours. If Dublin can do the same then we are in for a serious All-Ireland final. But I am not fully convinced that Dublin can do it. I think that they have been built up by the media and also their own supporters to be much better than they actually are.
There is no denying the class of Cluxton, Brogan and Mannion but Jim Gavin will need all 15 men to perform to their best ability on Sunday if they are to get by the Kingdom. Cooper, Declan O'Sullivan and Paul Galvin are stalwarts at this stage and they will not stop fighting. Darren O'Sullivan has the pace to stick with McCaffrey and the skill to make him focus on his defensive game rather than break upfield for scores.
Midfield will be the winning of this game, as it has been most games this season. In Buckley and Maher Kerry have a strong midfield and they will look to gain primary possession from their own kickouts and at least break even off Dublin's. If Kerry can do that, then it does not matter how good the Dublin forwards are, they will not have the ball.
There is one last kick in this Kerry team. A few of the players left from their great side of the noughties are still top class and cannot be written off, and they owe Dublin one from 2011.