Three days to throw-in

 

A look ahead to the All-Ireland final

Stats don't lie: Kerry seem to have the edge over Dublin

THE statistics might be damned but usually they don’t lie either, and Kerry certainly appear to have an overall superiority on Dublin in a direct comparison of their last four games in the run-up to Sunday’s All-Ireland showdown in Croke Park.

The range of big-match stats, courtesy of Vodafone, may demonstrate Dublin’s long-range shooting preference and high-tempo defensive strategy but shows Kerry as the masters of possession and definitely the kings of solo-runs, with 435 compared to Dublin’s 253.

Another glaring contrast from the past four games is the shooting patterns: Kerry carved out over three times (61) the amount of attempts from inside the 21 yard line as Dublin (20), whereas Dublin show a greater propensity for long-range shooting (outside the 21 yard line) – although not near as stark as the close-in ratios, with 93 attempts compared to Kerry’s 72.

Dublin had just one more wide (34) than Sunday’s opponents over the four games.

However, Kerry’s scoring total was significantly higher than Dublin’s, with the Kingdom achieving a 23.25 (4-81) average per match compared to Dublin’s 16 points.

Passing ratios also show up some notable contrasts, with Kerry relying far more on the hand-pass (664) compared to Dublin’s 475.

On the “frees against” count, Dublin conceded 95 compared to Kerry’s 78, while Kerry fielded three times (18 to 6) the amount of kick-outs over the four games.

The holy grail

“IT’S not possible to put into words what an All-Ireland medal would mean for me and this Dublin team. It’s the Holy Grail.

“It’s why you start playing football when you are four, it’s why you train hard, take the ice baths and make all the sacrifices.

“You dream of getting the chance to win that medal. But now that we are here the biggest realisation is that we will have to exhaust ourselves and leave it all on the field to have any chance of winning.

“We need to be able to come back into the dressingroom at Croke Park next Sunday and be able to look each other in the eye and know that we have given it our all.”

Dublin forward Bernard Brogan, trying to put into words what an All-Ireland medal would mean, on his personal blog at www.hill16.ie/thedubhub

All dolled up: O'Brien gave Cooper nickname

HE’S the man that devised the most famous nickname in GAA history and he’s hoping it will become engraved forever in GAA immortality at around 5pm on Sunday.

It is now over 20 years since Peter O’Brien dubbed Colm Cooper “The Gooch” and he admits to being absolutely stunned that the nickname has stuck.

O’Brien, who was nearing the end of his playing career with Killarney club Dr Crokes when Cooper was beginning to make his mark at under-age level, recalls the landmark day that the word Gooch entered the everyday GAA vocabulary.

“Colm and myself both grew up in the Ardshanavooley estate in Killarney and even though there was a big age gap between us, we always joined in a kick-around at the field near our homes.

“I was in town one day and saw this new doll on the market with flaming red hair and other features that reminded me of Colm. The doll was called The Gooch – the rest is history,” said Peter who drew a bemused expression from his young neighbour when he shouted out the nickname for the first time later that evening.

“I only wish I had taken out copyright on it – I’d have made a fortune by now,” he smiled.

Postman Peter always knew that Colm was destined to be a GAA superstar as he stood out from the crowd, even as a skinny six-year-old kicking a ball around the field. “He had everything. He was streets ahead of the other kids of his age and he always played with older lads,” said Peter who also became an accomplished footballer and went on to play for Kerry at senior level.

O’Brien, a gifted goalkeeper in his day, was between the posts for Kerry in the 1995 All-Ireland Munster final and he was one of the stars of Dr Crokes All-Ireland Club Championship success in 1992. “I remember that day when I ran on to the field in Croke Park our club mascot was holding my hand. His name was Colm Cooper,” O’Brien said. “A steward tried to block us and said there were no mascots allowed but we chose to ignore him.”