Kerry v Dublin
This match up evokes memory of old, a time in the seventies and eighties were Kerry and Dublin met with regularity, usually with a win for the Kingdom.
The number of championship meetings decreased through the late eighties, they didn’t meet at all in the nineties but they have started to meet again in recent seasons, the most recent being Dublin’s All Ireland final win over Kerry in 2011.
The form book suggests Dubin should win this one, they have been in top form all year and dismantled many teams that they have played, including Kerry in February in Kerry. They walked through Leinster without too much of a test, Meath did put it up to them in the final but it was still a seven point win.
Kerry by contrast have a lot of questions over them. Are they too old? Will they suffer another second half fade out? They narrowly avoided relegation in the league.
The bookmakers have Kerry as rank outsiders for this clash with Dublin as hot favourites.
Kerry will hope to answer all doubters on Sunday. They have an experienced team who will be highly motivated at being written off. It will also be a motivating factor that they face the side who beat them in their last All Ireland final appearance when they should have won the game from a comfortable position.
Experience could be a key trait as this Dublin team, while very good, have a lot of young players who could get unnerved by the occasion.
Kerry seem to have been working on becoming defensively more stable. While they had a poor league, even thought they won when they had to, they did have the best defensive record in Division 1. Against Cavan, in the second half when they had a big lead amassed, they flooded their defence. The criticism was that while they had a lot of players back they did not tackle but the fact remains that Kerry are committed to a defensive policy this year. In that defence they have Marc O Se who can nullify any of the Dublin forwards. If Dublin find scores hard to come by then panic may set in. Kerry can punish them on the other side of the pitch too with some of the greatest forwards in the game ready to strike.
If Dublin are to win a good start will be key. If Dublin start well then any nerves or uneasiness will quickly evaporate. The thought is that Dublin will beat Kerry with fitness at the end of the game, much like Mayo did to Tyrone, but it could be that the longer the game is tight the more Kerry will be able to pounce for the win. Kerry are different to Tyrone because of their talent in the forwards.
The one team they both played was Cork. Had, Paudie Kissane been more composed in front of goal in the final ten minutes we may have been looking at an all Munster affair. Kerry were impressive against Cork but did allow them back in to it after playing impressive football in the first half. Kerry will be looking to extend their good performances for a longer duration in games and get rid of the lapses they have had.
This has been a good year for Dublin so far, for Kerry it has been a mixed bag. If Kerry can sustain a complete performance they can reach another final. If they cannot survive the pace of the Dubs they will be left with questions over where they go from there.
Kerry have quality and have another kick left in them and could be the ones to face Mayo in 3 weeks.