Dublin versus Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final is a classic clash of ages
As youth meets experience in Croke Park, the big question is whether or not Kerry have the legs
Far from it. For all the counter-pointing of the two sides’ age profiles, nobody doubts that if Kerry pull through it will be the older players who have the tightest grip on the rope. Crunch the numbers and Kerry bear not just the stripes but the scars of success.
Of the team that starts tomorrow, only Anthony Maher made his debut between 2006 and 2009. Why? Because Kerry were in the process of winning three All-Irelands in four years and the shop floor didn’t have many vacancies. The upshot is a team with plenty of experience and plenty of youth but very little blend in between.
“The worry would be on both sides, to be honest about it,” says Weeshie Fogarty of Radio Kerry. “The backline are very inexperienced. Peter Crowley, Fionn Fitzgerald and Mark Griffin are stepping into new territory here and you can’t be certain about them yet. But the thing about it is, there was plenty of experience there for the manager and selectors to pick if they had wanted to. They obviously didn’t feel that O’Mahony and Brosnan were up to it or they would have put them in the team.
“The Kerry defence has to come up trumps. You have the two Ó Sés and their legs are going and then you have Shane Enright and the three young lads. We all know how pacy Dublin are and we all know that they’ll come at you from all directions. Crowley and Fitzgerald are very quick and whoever they are picking up, they won’t be caught for pace anyway.”
Any way you turn this game, the pace question remains the arrow pointing to the top of the dial. Young players are fast players. Dublin have more young players, ergo Dublin’s speed will do damage. Ain’t necessarily so, not in McConville’s book anyway.
“I get where people are coming from when they talk about Dublin’s pace,” he says. “It is devastating, especially when they get a run on you. But Dublin have played against teams who have made it very easy to do all that running from their defence. No team yet has asked them enough questions defensively. The best way to test the likes of Jack McCaffrey and JamesMcCarthy and these boys is to see what they’re like going the other way.
“Give them enough reason to have to pick and choose their runs. So instead of McCaffrey being able to go up and make 10 runs in each half, you get him going the other way and he only makes two or three in each half. He doesn’t have the same effect on the game, other players don’t come into the game as much because that supply line is cut off and there isn’t that big lift in the stadium every time he goes forward. Dublin have played against young teams who’ve let them play. Kerry are too experienced to do that.”
So which is it to be? Swash or buckle. Whizz or wisdom. Dublin or Kerry – 70 minutes will decide it one way or the other.