Dublin and Kerry will look to finally settle the score in this years’ All-Ireland Final replay on Saturday at 6pm.
The compelling first encounter at Croke Park went the distance in a 1-16 to 1-16 drawn game. A replay will be necessary on Saturday to determine if the Sam Maguire Cup will stay in Dublin for a fifth successive season, or if Kerry can bring the trophy home for the first time since 2014.
The mythical five-in-a-row is an achievement than no team in the history of the sport has achieved. Kerry have came the closest winning 2 x four-in a-rows between 1929-1932 and 1978-1981 as well as 2 x three-in-a-rows from 1939-1941 and 1984-1986.
There was nothing between the sides last time out in a game many feel Kerry could have won. While Dublin regained their grip later in the game both teams are more evenly match than many fans and pundits predicted in the encounter.
Two missed goal chances and two extra points went begging in the first half of the first game, with Dublin starting very slowly out of the blocks. This was a similar theme in their first half against Mayo in the semi-final for Jim Gavin’s side.
Dublin always are in with a chance to regain the lead with their high-powered attack. Free-taker Dean Rock is Mr Consistent, the talent of Con O’Callaghan, Brian Fenton in Midfield picking passes and Jack McCaffrey running through the lines from half-back are all dangerous.
Kerry are the next best team in the country to the Dubs and have experienced an excellent year. Key man David Clifford, the excellent Sean O’Shea and experienced Paul Geaney have all lead by example throughout this campaign.
Jim Gavin is set to resist the temptation to reshuffle the pack and will keep changes to a minimum for Saturday’s All-Ireland Final replay.
In the first game Dublin’s Jonny Cooper couldn’t handle The Kingdom’s David Clifford. He could be replaced by Philly McMahon who strangely hasn’t seen much action this year.
John Small, who suffered a hand injury last time is set to keep his place at half-back alongside James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey.
Meanwhile Kerry’s Gavin White and Brian Ó Beaglaoich are the Kerry players most under pressure for places in Peter Keane’s starting team.
White struggled to keep tabs on Man of the Match Jack McCaffrey while Killian Spillane, Tommy Walsh and Jack Sherwood all made significant contributions as subs in the drawn game.
Kerry will take confidence from their first performance against the reigning champions into the All-Ireland Final replay and look to keep Dublin at arms length in the opening half.
Kerry no longer have the element of surprise having faced their opponents in the first game. Dublin will have done their homework and will look for a quicker start. I expect them to go for the jugular early on.
Jim Gavin will drive his forces forward to take shots at Shane Ryan’s goal and punish a lacklustre Kerry defence. They didn’t do enough of this the first time the sides met.
On the flip side, Kerry will exploit whoever is marking David Clifford as the main target and continue to tap over scores through Sean O’Shea’s frees and Killian Spillane.
Making the game as tough as possible for Dublin is never easy, but Kerry will have no fear and gain confidence for the first game.
Despite this, I feel like Dublin will take it up a gear and revert to their possession based football. Expect them to go for goals early.
Prediction-I can see Dublin winning by 4 points this time around.
Kerry to score first & Dublin to win in normal time-13/8
Both teams to score a goal & Dublin win by 5 points or more-7/4
A goal to be the first score of the game-10/1
Draw at HT & Dublin win by 7 or more points-25/1
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