A crestfallen Neil McGee of Donegal sits on the pitch at Croke Park following the All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

For All-Ireland winners the end justifies the means – for everyone else it’s just hard going

Donegal’s Darach O’Connor with Paul Murphy of Kerry during the All-Ireland senior football final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Donegal never hit top stride as Munster champions stay one step ahead

Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy and Eamonn McGee of Donegal in action during the 2012 All-Ireland quarter-final. The pair will renew battle in the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho

After transformative semi-finals for both teams the Ulster champions have the edge on Kerry

Paul Geaney gained great experience in the Sigerson Cup before starring for the Kerry senior football team. Photograph: Inpho.

Other factors, especially the Sigerson Cup, need to be taken account when judging senior winning sequences

“It might surprise people that this is on a par with Mayo and Donegal two years ago, which was the highest demand I’d ever seen for an All-Ireland final.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Pairing of Kerry and Donegal in All-Ireland football showpiece proving a popular draw

Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy scores a goal past Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly and Ger Cafferkey in the All-Ireland semi-final replay last month. Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

How often have we glimpsed the future in September only for revision to be needed within months?

James McCartan: the 1994 Down All-Irealnd winning team was   much re arranged from the team which won Sam Maguire in 1991.  Photograph: Inpho

Donegal are in the tradition of Tyrone and Down who regained All-Irelands after beingforced to reconstruct their challenges

Clare captain Tony Kelly lifts the trophy after last night’s win over Wexford. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Joint manager Gerry O’Connor pays tribute to young stars after 2-20 to 3-11 win over Wexford

Clare’s Tony Kelly: he may well hit form for the climax of the championship today. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie

Eleven of Clare side that start today’s final have lined out competitively for seniors

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