El Clásico between two GAA giants to decide our final opponents

We’re all starting to lick our chomps in anticipation of Sunday’s showdown between Kerry and Dublin. Here’s JPM with a preview of this latest clash between two giant forces in Gaelic football.

Dublin Kerry_

Photo: RTE.ie

Dublin this year have been the form team in both League and championship. Their League success was their first since 1993 and it has been pivotal in helping build the platform for them to go on and follow up in the championship. It has exposed their crop of younger guys to success and their enthusiasm, style and exhibition football is easy to appreciate. Also now that they have tasted success, they must want more. And here they find themselves, on the brink of playing in the biggest match of their careers. But in their way stands the most successful county in the history of Gaelic games. So in fairness you have to say that however much Dublin want it, they will have to earn it the hard way.

What will this game hinge upon? Youth versus experience? Croke Park and the Hill – will it have any effect? Past championship meetings and revenge? The desire possibly to retire on a high? There are many questions in this most intriguing of battles.

Both teams have had so much spoken about them. But the majority of the more recent media focus has been on Dublin. First and foremost it is because Dublin is obviously the biggest market so rarely a day will go by without some report in the national tabloids regards their team. But it’s also a reflection on their style of play, and the success of the team and younger guys. Jim Gavin has decided thus far on a positive all-out attack role for his team in every match. This doesn’t mean that they cannot defend. But teams spend so much time in defence against Dublin that they rarely have an opportunity to test the opposing full-back line. Plus Ger Brennan is there to shore up the middle. Anything coming through here gets stopped, one way or another. I don’t have the stats here, but maybe someone can provide info on how many yellows Ger has received this year?


Photo: The Score (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

While Ger is there minding the house it allows for the lads either side of him – particularly Jack McCaffrey – to race forward. Race is probably too kind a word for it. No-one this year who follows GAA can help but look on in awe at the sheer speed that McCaffrey brings to a pitch. If he gets behind your defence he’s gone and there’s no catching him. Add that to his ability to run at guys and even while soloing he has the ability to bypass (on the outside) any defenders in his way. It shows the blinding pace he possesses. To be honest I can’t understand how his hamstrings can take it.

Another huge success this year has been the form of Ciarán Kilkenny. Since returning from the Aussie Rules the Castleknock man has made himself a stalwart on the half-forward line. His astute passing, reading of the game and ability to score valuable points belie his youth. It looks like he was born to play GAA.

Paul Manion and Jonny Cooper too have graduated from the successful U-21 team. Both have had a fantastic year. You can only admire how these guys have fought their way onto the senior team. For them to be able to keep guys like Alan Brogan, Bryan Cullen, Kevin McManamon out of this team says much for their ability and development as players. In truth that is another of Dublin’s major strengths. The ability to spring players (who already have Celtic Crosses) from the bench should assist them greatly if things are not going to plan.

But Kerry have also have great players  and so often in the past Kerry teams have be written off incorrectly. Players like the Gooch, Tomás Ó Sé, Galvin, Declan and Darren O’Sullivan, Brosnan, Marc Ó Sé, O’Mahony could all have retired gracefully prior to this with their reputations intact. It’s a young man’s game now but the smell of one more All-Ireland and probably going out on a high has lured them back. Now they have come this far it would be foolish to write them off.

This year they are 23/10 to progress past Dublin.  Huge odds in a two-horse race considering the pedigree of this team and the feedback from Kerry is that this is an insult (and probably correct) to these great players. Remember these guys are still probably bitter after that 2011 defeat. Also Kevin McStay rightly pointed out that they are still the best footballers in the country. All they have to do now is rally for two more matches and glory is theirs once more.

There is a rumour though that all is not well in the Kerry camp, with older fellas not buying into the new Cian O’Neill regime. It’s difficult to know if this is true or not as we all know most rumours from Kerry should be taken with a pinch of salt. What is more obvious though is Kerry’s inability to play for 70 minutes so far in the championship. In Killarney they were fortunate that Cork ran out of time, as they had them sizzling on the rack in the second half. Also in the second half against Cavan, Kerry were unable to push on and dominate the match. This is not the form of Kerry of old who would not pull back until the team they were playing was utterly demolished. Suffice to say that performances they have produced so far will not be enough to get them past the obstacle next Sunday.

Dublin have other things in their favour. Jack O’Connor mentions Stephen Cluxton and certainly he is a major factor. Dublin play a game based on pace and all out attack. It begins with their no. 1 and if Kerry are to survive on Sunday stopping him will be a big part of it.

Cluxton 2011

Photo: Independent.ie

Key to winning the game will be the domination of the middle third. To that end Kerry have employed two big men in the middle. We know about Anthony Maher and he is a fine player, but little has been written regards Johnny Buckley this year. However the young Dr. Crokes man is a big fella too. Plus he is also blessed with the ability to mix it and cover space to help shut down those places where Cluxton might like to aim for.

Also it wouldn’t be a major surprise now if Kerry only played a two-man full-forward line. The absence of Kieran Donaghy in the line-up only helps confirms this. Cork for all their failings exposed the threat of the high ball into the Dublin full-back line. However Kerry are not gambling on this to be the key to beating them.

As a result it seems far more likely that they will employ a more defensive set up with Darran O’Sullivan coming out to probably marshal the runs of Jack McCaffrey. In fairness the renowned Kerry speedster is probably the only player in the country able to match him for pace.  And in the inside line this will leave more space for James O’Donoghue and either Gooch or Declan O’Sullivan to exploit. I think you can expect Kerry to interchange here with regularity to confuse Dublin and their match-ups.


Photo: Independent.ie 

Overall Kerry will be hoping to slow this game down as much as possible by forcing Dublin attack deep from the back. This will suit the Kingdom just fine as one of their major strengths throughout the years has been their ability to shut down any slow opposition attack.

Either way whoever comes out on Sunday will assume favouritism for the All-Ireland. Dublin versus Kerry will bring out the best in everyone and the whole country will always look forward to these matches. This one has the hallmarks of a 50/50 (see WJ’s own prediction line). The bookies are gambling on Dublin opening up Kerry and finally clicking as they have threatened to do all year. And while this is quite possible based on their performances to date,  personally I think a shock is on the cards. Kerry have far too much cuteness in them to be taken lightly. If they can gather themselves for one match then they are on the cusp once more in September. Youth might bring enthusiasm but experience I believe always counts for a little more at this stage of the championship.

43 thoughts on “El Clásico between two GAA giants to decide our final opponents

  1. Earlier on this year (during the league) a friend from kerry mentioned that all was not well in kerry set up. He said it boils down to kerry replacing (now our own) Donie Buckley with (previously our own) Cian ONeill. The more senior players in the set up were disgusted and apparantly threatened to walk. Their loss is now obviously very much Mayo’s gain. Like was said earlier though.. Kerry been like North Korea this year and anything they do say needs a large pinch of salt.

  2. Cant wait for sunday. Really looking forward to this match……
    Me thinks age and treachery triumphs over youthful exuberance.

  3. JPM is on the money when he talks about Kerry going defensive. They played very defensively against a toothless Cavan attack and they can only have done that because they were looking ahead to the next day out.

    I believe Paddy Power is paying odds against on over 2.5 goals in the game. That looks a gift to me.

  4. Has to be Kerry to win for me. Dublin won the league by just about getting over Tyrone(who beat Dublin in the earlier rounds). We saw how limited Tyrone were in the second half against us. Kerry went to Tyrone and annihilated them in the first half although Tyrone did come back they couldn’t claw back the lead. Its obvious Kerry have been training for this match all season and sacrificing the league. They knew they would beat Cavan and again probably tailored their training around this. They will have 12 behind the ball early on with quick passes in front of the full forward line where there will be loads of space for cooper and o’donoghue and they will get goals. They will also dominate at midfield as Buckley is seriously underrated, he was exellent in McHale park in the first round of the league.
    When we win the AI we have to put Kerry to the sword to exorcise so many demons!!!

  5. I was thinking Dublin by a couple of points after seeing Kerry v Cavan in the flesh, now, I’m not so sure. Kerry still have great quality and the sight of Dublin fans on the hill might be enough to coax a bit more from them. I’m on the fence today, wouldn’t like to put a shilling on either but will thoroughly enjoy the breakfast on Sunday morning watching both that and the minor game. A donegal man I know reckons that the pick of Dublin and Kerry won’t beat Mayo if they get going, not sure about that either but it was something else to hear from a fella that knows a bit about the game.

  6. The key to beating the Dubs lies in how your forwards defend the Cluxton kick out. If Kerry can disrupt his flow and force him to kick long into midfield then Kerry will win. However if Kerry surrender the Dublin half of the field then the Dublin forwards, uneconomical as they appear to be, will nevertheless get enough ball to win easily.

    For ourselves I believe that we would prefer to play Dublin in that we know how to beat them and they hold no fears for us. We did not appear to bothered by our defeat to them in the league semi, and I wonder if Horan was not revealing his hand in April as to how we might approach them later in the year

  7. Said it after they won Munster.

    Kerry will beat Dublin.

    They have too many great players not to pull out a big performance.

    If Dublin dont get as much possession as they are used to they will revert to Hail Marys and take the wrong options.

    The League form is not relevant now.

    Maher is a very underrated player and I expect Kerry to go into an early lead

  8. Jim Gavin is one cool dude. Very relaxed on the line, the boy can handle pressure. He can therefore may the right decisions when the pressure comes on. This game was never going to be as clear cut to call as the previous semi to call, I still fancy Dublin in this one. Dublin must start converting the many goal chances they create if they are to have any hope against Mayo.

    From a previous thread yes Nephin I am a Rossie and Juan, O Donnell has a young family and was not able to commit to the seniors in 2012. The minors coming through were seen as weaker than previous years, Fergie was talked back into the minor gig to keep the momentum going. He has legendary status in Ros much like Horan will have in Mayo in a few weeks time.

  9. @rossoneri, sorry only half my post went up there, thanks for that, never thought of it that way, makes perfect sense though, tis some commitment for intercounty managers/players and i suppose the wives pick up alot of slack in the household duties. Hope ta god ye win it on sunday and we have an all connacht minor final. Hope fergal goes back to the seniors at some stage, i dont know much about evans but i beileve a county needs an “in house” manager like horan,gavin, fitzmaurice. Best of luck again on sunday.

  10. I posed this question before and i will pose it again now.Did Dublin peak too soon this year? The league is irrelevant now but regarding the Dubs performance during it they were well ahead of the rest of the teams in it.I wondered how Jim Gavin was going to be able to keep that level of performance up until September.I remember Gavin at the time airing his views about the big gap from when league ends and the championship starts.When i was looking at Mayo in league i thought Horan was delaying the lads from peaking too soon which i believe that to be the case.The closer we get to this game the more i think it will be a tight affair.As another poster said putting pressure on cluxtons kick out will go along way and if the ball does get to the Dubs back line id say they will crowd their half of pitch .Dublin will need goals.On points alone i cant see them winning .If Kerry doesn’t give away goals and puts pressure on all of the Dubs shots well Kerry will be there or there abouts.

  11. I’ll have a few euro on Kerry by 1-3 pts

    1) Dublin favourites and hyped up that will suit Kerry.
    2) Kerry seeking revenge for the 2011 AI final that they really should have won
    3) Kerry have been peaking themselves for this game.
    4) Kerry written off by 90% of pundits and that will only fire them up
    5) Kerry have excellent champions record v Dublin

  12. Regardless who wins on Sun the All Ireland is there for Mayo to lose. They are quite capable of beating either of those teams
    We will have to organize our free taking as personally I don’t trust either K Mc or E Varly so therefore Alan Freeman should take full responsibility for a large part of them with our goalie to look after the long ones
    That is of course if Cillian is still unable to play. Our forward line needs a bit of punch therefore I would place Carolin at 10 M Conroy at 13 Alan Dillon at 15 either side of Freeman
    I Would love to know what is the position witj Jason Doherty I would use Andie Moran as an impact sub as he is still a bit behind the pace of the game We have a very good and I sincerely believe that this is the best chance we have of winning game 6 We tend to forget that we also have a super Minor team so lets wish James and Enda all the best and a very big thank you for all the joy you brought us.We may.be in the middle of a recession at the moment but it definitely is not a football one
    Mayo Abu.

  13. Just a thought away from the big match – I read somewhere that it takes two years for a player with Andy Moran’s injury to get back to full fitness. That would make sense and explain Andy’s performance.

  14. Who at 11? Aos perhaps and stick gibbons or Barry Moran at midfield.I think a few that took frees the last day should leave them to freeman or hennelly, and the whole lot of them up front should steady themselves for a second before the shot.

    Aos and dillon passed up certain goal chances against Tyrone, dillon could have buried that last point he took, and aos fisted over with freeman staring at an empty net. If we get those chances in the final (and we will) we need to make certain to take them.
    If I was jh I would really consider Barry Moran on the edge of the square for 20 minutes at some stage and give the ball in high to him, let the corner forwards stay out a little to give him room and if he’s double marked he can break the ball down or win it and be fouled. I have no doubt Mayo will score 13 to 17 points in the final, they just have it in them to do that, it’s the addition of goals that will bring them over the line at the end. I doubt Cillian will be available at any rate, but there is goal potential in a good few of them.

    My thoughts,
    Aos at 11, seamie and b m or gibs at midfield, Carolan to start, conroy to start,mcloughlin,dillon,freeman
    Higgins in defense with cunniffe,Boyle,Keegan,Vaughan and Barrett.
    Hennelly in goal and given free taking duty from distance
    And somewhere in the game feeney, Andy and the rest drafted in. Barry Moran going to edge of square for a spell to give us that option for a goal

    No doubt we have a panel at present that can beat anyone if they click on the day

  15. David, i would disagree with you on that idea of barry played at full forward, he was tried there a couple of years ago and made no impression, even if he does catch ball hes not guraunteed to score. I don’t think aidan should be played at 11, he was tried there throughout the league and was useless to be honest. I just think if its not broken dont fix it, aidan will be better utilised dominating midfield and giving us a great plat form to build or attacks.

    I do agree with you that carolan should start and andy come on as an impact, i’d personally like to see doherty at 11, he had a great league and can score some crucial long range points. But i think jh will emoy higgins in that role and give him the freedom of the pitch or possibly track mcaffrey if its the dubs we face. Higgins i think would be the only player to keep up with him when he runs froms deep.

  16. I fancy Kerry to win. I want Kerry to win. Kerry owe us that much. I remember standing in croke park in 04. I had a pair of boxing gloves tied around my neck. One green. One red. I held a sign that stated”The Gloves Are Off” For the entire game, I was subjected to a constant barrage of snide comments from a shower of Kerry boyos. When the end finally was official on the only place that matters, the score board, one of the boyos leaned into me and whispered into my ear, “Tis only a game boy, Tis only a game”

    Stll waters run deep. I want Kerry in this final. I don’t need to show the gloves no more. There gone.

    I know there has understandly been a few people on site feeling cautious pre tyrone game about talking about Mayo finally winning Sam back. I hope it’s okay to do so now.

    I’ll say this much, now that we’re in the All Ireland Final and the onslaught against this same team and management, after the loss against Kildare in the league is a fading memory.

    If this Mayo team, guided by this Mayo management don’t win Sam and don’t dominate for years to come, we may all just forget about it and simply say

    “They’re a nice bunch of lads. Sure they wouldn’t harm anybody. They play nice football and sure that lad who plays in the forwards has an Uncle a Doctor abroad in Killala. They’ll never win fuck all but they’re nice enough ladeens all the same.”

    This is a serious Mayo team. To the doubters, Wake up and enjoy the ride.

    Kerry for the final.They owe us that much. Time for Payback.

    “Come On Mayo!!!”

  17. Juan

    I know it’s not really broken, but it wasn’t last year neither until we had no answers up front in the final The ball came out as fast as it went in most of the time. Having options like 6″5 Moran who has bulked up a lot near the goal is no bad option if its not going right.
    I get the fact that he hasn’t played much up there, but, he can score and is a very awkward player for any defender to hold.
    It just needs to be played in to suit his strengths, high or dropping and near the goal

  18. It has to be Kerry and then we can exorcise all our demons………………………the mindset among Kerry fans is today as much alive as it has been in the past and the pompous arrogant phrases are still being poured forth now that our Mayo has made it to yet another final…………………..What has to be achieved this year is the end to such phrases as ‘ So Mayo has made the final, yerra, sure it’s ours now, all we need to do is get to the field and the colour of our jerseys will frighten the life out of them’ or ‘sure all we need to do is show up and rattle the jersey ‘
    I honestly believe that the sight of the green over the red will be a worry to whoever we meet on the 22nd and the bearers are the best that have lined out in an AI in the 62year quest.
    There is a certain romanticism in the wish that it is Kerry on Sunday next but none in the statement of this Mayo or the belief that I actually believe that Kerry will be too shrewd for the Dubs and will win with some to spare.
    MaighEo Abu

  19. David, totally agree regarding the ball coming straight back out last year, i remember watchin from the lower cusack as the McGees and McGlylnn just swated the ball away everytime it came in during the opening 10mins. That was when i really knew we were never going to win that game.

    I just think Freeman has earned the right to start at full forward, hes playing dome superb football whether the ball is coming in high or low, he just turns and scores, plus a great goal threat. I do see where your coming from with the idea of barry, maybe it would b a good plan b to bring him on if theirs no in-roads been made by our forwards. I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  20. To copy from the last thread the biggest test Kerry got in the championship was against Cork when they won by 2pts and they scored 1-16 . The biggest test Dublin got was also against Cork they won by 5pts and also scored 1-16.

    Kerry average For: 2-17; Average Against: 0-11
    Dublin Average For: 2-18; Average Against: 0-13

    Top scorers
    Kerry Colm Cooper……………1-19
    Dublin Cluxton/ B Brogan 13 points

    It’s foolish to write off Kerry in any All Ireland semi final however Dublin look a more focused outfit than last year and i think they will win by a few points.

  21. The question is lads are we better than last year? And of so how are we? Personally i think we are better .One year older and wiser.If im being honest i always new in the back of my mind Donegal were going to win last year.I thought it when they won the semi final in Ulster last year.But after final last year i said Mayo for 2013.Since 1996 i have heard people and pundits alike this is a different Mayo and that used drive me cracked because they weren’t really that different than the ones before them.But i have to say this team are different.Last year was the first final i could say ok we lost but we lost to a better team.Not oh we blew a 6 point lead at half time or we were beat by half time or that we bottled it.No no we were beat by a better team who were also a little further ahead with their development than we were.To me that was a turning point.I understand to a degree where some pundits are talking about the lack of marquee forwards we could argue that all day but it could be easier to respond by saying we have marquee backs who can defend and all of who can score not to mention we probably have the best midfield in the country.But to me our defense is the big thing that has improved from last year as a unit.If and i believe we will go on to win it this year it will be won by the play makers in defense,Boyle,Vaughan,keegan,Barrett.That is not to take away from the rest everyone needs to play out of their skin .It will also be won with our bench as well i feel.We are certainly in a good position and in better shape than last.

  22. Cant believe some people still want AOS at 11, given that he has been the best midfielder in the country this year, he was tried at 11 in the league and was totally useless, games just seemed to bypass him, yet still people want him there.
    As for Barry Moran at full forward, I’m sorry this is another daft idea. We saw it before (many times) and it didn’t work. Freeman has been outstanding at FF as a primary ball winner all summer, why change now. B Moran is a great midfielder but not a natural forward, neither is AOS. Instead of creating space inside, they just block up the area favouring the defence every time. It’s the classic tactic of the team and manager who has run out of ideas “throw the big fella in FF and lash it in high”. If we see this in the AIF from mayo, then it’s a sure sign we are in serious trouble.
    Chances are created in the forwards from intelligent and well timed off the ball running at the right angles into space from NATURAL forwards like Dillon, conroy, O Connor, freeman, andy moran (the 2011/12 version). It’s actually one of the areas COC showed so much improvement from last season.

  23. Juan

    We won’t disagree, I too believe Alan freeman should be full forward, totally. I would only put big Moran in around there if conroy or dillon or whoever was being were being devoured like last year and we needed a totally different option.
    Not many 5 10 players can out jump a fella 6″5, that’s my point and him being a midfielder means he has the strength to hold onto it. A key thing that didn’t happen last year.
    Mayo have a good spread of scorers but a goal or 2 will be needed in this final, nothing surer and route one might be a good bet since Cillian and his instincts will be sitting on the bench and vaughan might be too busy defending to do those longs runs that he does to score goals.
    I don’t think j doc is an 11 type player by any stretch at this level, he will be in the corner spot perhaps. Feeney will probably get the nod for 11, who else?

  24. Realistically lads, Conroy in for Cillian will be the only change barring further injury. We can speculate all we like about moving Aido and Barry Moran around the pitch, but Horan won’t stir too far for what has worked for him this year.

    The Dubs might be the favs with the bookies but Kerry seem to be the favs with people here!

  25. David you might want to have another look at your defence and see if there’s any spot for Cafferkey. It’s good fun to speculate about changes we’d like to see but I don’t think that Horan will make any major changes to the team that got us to the final. Plan B has not really been needed all summer so who knows what we have up our sleeve if things start to go wrong.

  26. Dublin like ourselves are alot more focused this year and i hate to say are my favourites to win the final.

    They were all over the place last year and we barely got by them in that semi final. Kerry have showed me nothing to get excited about all year.

    Mayo v dublin final in my books

    My only concern for us is that we havent met a quality team in form all year people could argue donegal were a test but they havent been at it and my fear is that we are a bit too confident and that if dublin find a rhythm we will be left a bit shell shocked.

    For me it all depends on dublin if they play to their full potential which they rarely do they are in my opinion unstoppable for any team in the country at the moment but if they dont click then mayo win final easily imo.

  27. Keep an eye on Buckley, the red haired Kerry centrefielder tomorrow. This guy is just 23 and is a serious operator. They are saying in Kerry that he is their next Darragh O’Se.
    I disagree with JPM. I think that Kerry will attack Dublin’s speed game. That’s why Donaghy is not starting. I would expect Kerry to be ahead at half time by 4 or 5. The huge question about them is what they’ll do in the second half. The evidence of the last two games is that they have difficulty driving on.
    It sure is a mouthwatering tie!

  28. I think Dublin will win this one with a few points to spare. Kerry have a strong team but some of those legs have clocked up some serious miles. Their better players are closer to the end than the beginning of their careers. That’s not doing them a disservice, its simply a fact. Dublin play the game at an unbelievably high tempo with players attacking from all over the pitch. Their younger players have made them a better team than the All Ireland winning team of 2011. Kerry will put up a fight but I just can’t see them doing it.

    As for the final. AOS can’t play at 11 and Barry Moran can’t play at 14. So for me, that idea is a non-starter. It’s not even a viable plan B. I said earlier in the year that Freeman had the potential to be Mayo’s most important/dangerous forward and I’m delighted that he is fulfilling some of the huge potential. If Dublin do get to the final then I really can’t split the teams. I’d expect an absolute classic with hopefully Mayo’s hunger and desperation to see them through.

  29. Dublin will win tomorrow by a cricket score….reason is simple…they are the best team in the country.

  30. Lads the short n long of it all is that we will need a massive improvement from the last day to win the final. We were awful for the first 25 mins, defence included. Tyrone ran at us in the final quarter and caused us problems in that period. I think our defence is arguably the best in the country BUT they were below their usual selves v Tyrone (barret n keegan excepted) I don’t think our half forwards helped them defensively enough tho.

    Tyrone exposed cracks in our team.

    The dubs/Kerry is intriguing …I’m hoping whoever wins does do convincingly. Either way they will be playing their full hands tmro and the victor will enter the final as favourites.

    Of course we can win the final! We will need our best performance ever and a big mix of patience, doggedness and resilience!! We believe we can do it. It’s our time.

  31. Poor Roscommon minors, that’s exactly what not to do at this stage. They had Tyrone by the throat but couldn’t squeeze. Let’s hope mr gilvarry watched this one and gets his lads ready for it, sounds like Tyrone do a lot of pulling and off the ball stuff. I suppose that’s the way they are being trained, roll on the final and Mayo showing them how real football
    is played. We have been warned in advance, expect lots of pulling and dragging but make sure to finish your shot properly or end up like Roscommon.

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