Form favours Dublin but history and intrigue means Kerry can’t be written off
Hard to call as old rivals do battle in fascinating All-Ireland SFC semi-final
The Dublin team psyche themselves up before another bumper Croke Park crowd. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The Dublin and Kerry teams parade before the 2011 All-Ireland football final, which Dublin went on to win with a late flurry of scores. Many Kerry players will be keen to avenge that defeat. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Kieran McGeeney possibly didn’t mean it in the most complimentary fashion imaginable but he wasn’t far wrong all the same. On the BBC couch last Sunday in the wake of Mayo’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone, he casually predicted that the game they’d just seen would be forgotten by Tuesday.
“The Dublin-Kerry hype is going to hit in on Wednesday,” he said.
“Fantastic occasion, already sold out and whoever comes out of that there will be automatic favourites for the All-Ireland, especially after today’s game. Only time will tell with the media come this time next week but the Dublin-Kerry thing has a life of its own. It really does.”
Hard to argue with the man.
Even in a year where the attendances are on pace to rival the boom years, Croke Park hasn’t been full yet.
The closest it came was Dublin’s quarter-final win over Cork, which drew 70,018 to Jones’s Road four weeks ago.
There’ll be another 12,982 stitched in on top of that this afternoon. Three extra trains have been chartered from Kerry and both flights from Farranfore are sold out.
It won’t be just a two-county affair either. Come the end of the year, it will undoubtedly feature in the top-10 list of most watched sports broadcasts.
In the half-light world of online gambling, it had already outstripped every other football and hurling match this year by Thursday afternoon.
Betfair expect to see over €500,000 wagered on the game by teatime, comfortably over-reaching the most bet upon game so far (Dublin v Kildare in Leinster) andout-doing by multiples Mayo v Tyrone, the next game down on the list.
Note that none of this is hype. Ticket sales, travel arrangements, money down – it’s all just facts upon facts that have already come to hand.
Dublin v Kerry doesn’t need hype. Hide it away like a secret gig at a festival and still you’d find you’d fill the place.
And if it’s about history at all these days, it’s about recent history.
The 1970s and ’80s mean very little here. Of the 30 players who take the pitch today, 21 weren’t born in time for the 1985 All-Ireland final that knotted the end of that particular length of rope.
No, the shared history here comes down to two games – and even that is stretching it a bit.
Because as much as the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final between the sides feels sort of similar, with Dublin coming in as favourites and Kerry unfancied, the swings and roundabouts since then have changed a lot.