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
Only four of Dublin’s starting 15 that day will face the throw-in today; the Kerry contingent isn’t much thicker at just seven.
By contrast, the All-Ireland final of two Septembers ago feels much more relevant.
That irritating one more
It was Kerry’s All-Ireland and then it wasn’t and as many as a dozen of the players whso were on the pitch that day in green and gold will likely figure tomorrow. They all have All-Ireland medals to their name but they know they should have that irritating one more.
Dublin didn’t cost them it, five minutes of pure carelessness did the damage. They have a wrong to right today.
Dublin have spritzed and freshened since that day. The team that beat Kerry belonged to the Brogans and Bryan Cullen and the like, old freighthoppers who nobody could begrudge when they finally caught one that took them where they wanted to go.
As of today, it will be Jack McCaffrey or Ciarán Kilkenny or Paul Mannion. Nobody else from nowhere else need apply.
With youth comes pace and Dublin’s abundance of it is the factor most readily reached for by those who would dismiss Kerry’s chances.
But apart from ignoring the steps Eamonn Fitzmaurice has taken to inject some of Kerry’s own youth and pace into matters – Fionn Fitzgerald and Peter Crowley in the defence, Aidan O’Mahony and Eoin Brosnan on the bench – it also assumes Kerry haven’t the wit to go a little Beckenbauer on it. It matters less that you are not quick from A to B if you make sure not to start at A.
Dripping with intrigue
All in all, it’s a fixture dripping with intrigue. If the cliché holds and semi-finals are for the winning, Kerry certainly can lay claim to the greater amount of practice. Since 2002, they have won eight All-Ireland semi-finals and lost one. In the same period, Dublin have won one and lost five.
Different times, different teams and maybe it all means nothing. But it does add to the feeling Kerry maybe have a better chance than this summer’s form strictly suggests.
If right is right and the world is round, Dublin ought to win. But the closer it gets, the more it feels that anyone shouting it with confidence is either a blowhard or a bluffer.