Stephen Cluxton lifts Sam Maguire after Dublin’s win over Kerry. Photograph: Tommy Dickson /Inpho

Stephen Cluxton now has to be honoured with overdue Player of the Year award

Kerry’s Seán O’Shea and Dublin’s Brian Fenton at the  All-Ireland SFC final at Croke Park on September 1st. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

First thing Kerry need to do is get up high and challenge Stephen Cluxton's kick outs

Stephen Cluxton makes a stunning save to deny Kerry’s Paul Murphy a goal. It was another game where I came away nearly in awe of Dublin’s goalkeeper.  I honestly think he’s still underrated by people. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Idea that Kerry have lost their chance is wrong – they’ve ample room for improvement

Six-time All-Ireland winner looks at the side tasked with denying Dublin five-in-a-row

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan celebrates one of his two goals against Mayo in the semi-final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

In the end, there’s just too much in Dublin’s armoury to foil the five-in-a-row

 David Clifford in action against Ronan McNamee of Tyrone. “I don’t buy this idea that Kerry have nothing to lose. They have an All-Ireland final to lose.”  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Peter Keane has a young team but that doesn’t mean they get a pass for losing the final

Tyrone’s Michael McKernan  gets in  Adrian Spillane’s face on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dublin are awesome but Kerry's young players will still be expected to perform against them

David Clifford: his accuracy, along with the likes of Seán O’Shea, Paul Geaney and Stephen O’Brien, can help Kerry prevail against Tyrone on Sunday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Super 8s schedule shows GAA’s disdain for player welfare

Dublin’s Philly McMahon and Cian O’Sullivan tackle Cathal McShane of Tyrone during the 2018 All-Ireland football final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Trying to keep something up your sleeve for a later date is just wasting a game

Stephen Rochford: his presence on Donegal sideline could serve to inspire Mayo in what promises  to be some battle.  Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Idea that their former manager will prove Donegal’s trump card will inspire players

David Moran set the appropriate tone for Kerry in  last weekend’s Super 8s clash with Mayo  via his early feisty exchanges with  Aidan O’Shea. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Keane’s tactics worked a treat against Mayo but will need to be tweaked for Croke Park test

Kerry’s David Clifford and Brendan Harrison of Mayo in the Division One league final in Croke Park in March. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

No doubt the Connacht side have a big physical edge over Kerry but I’m still hopeful

Donegal: They’re the great white hope all of a sudden, the only ones who can save us from the five-in-a-row for Dublin – if one is to gauge by the reaction to their Ulster championship triumph.  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Bonner’s men have key building blocks in place as they follow Dublin’s playbook

Shane Walsh:  He can do anything with a football. He carries on that Galway pedigree of going out and playing with flair. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo

Kevin Walsh has overseen progress but now is the time to push on to the next level

Cian Mackey celebrates scoring a point for Cavan against Armagh in the entertaining Ulster championship clash at Clones. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

With stakes high, will Donegal and Tyrone stick to more open game plan this weekend?

Kevin McLaughlin misses the late free to draw the game against Roscommon. But I’d be surprised if Mayo weren’t still standing after Donegal and Roscommon have fallen away.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Donegal and Roscommon are improving but they’re not real contenders

Jim Gavin has very few sacred cows. We’ll find out as the summer goes along whether Philly McMahon is. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The Dubs are getting younger as they get older - Jim Gavin has very few sacred cows

Referee Cathal McAllister admonishes Grey Kennedy as he returns to the sideline after catching the ball from Kilkenny’s TJ Reid’s quickly-taken short free at Nowlan Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The life of a maor foirne is a simple one – until he inserts himself into the action

Dublin’s goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton should be picking up another All Star after a fine season. Photograph: Inpho

Kerry legend picks nine Dublin players, only one from Tyrone and none from Galway

A look at the players expected to line out for Dublin ahead of Sunday’s final

Seán Cavanagh with Kerry captain Declan O’Sullivan during the league clash in Omagh in 2006. When they had players like Peter Canavan, Stephen O’Neill, Kevin Hughes, Cavanagh and Brian McGuigan to call on, they would always build a score that’s hard to beat. Photograph: Alan Betson

Tyrone might disrupt Dublin’s rhythm but I don’t see them scoring enough to win

James McCarthy. 'I would say Jim Gavin hasn’t said five sentences to him this year.  He knows what has to be done and he does it.' Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

No point viewing football championship through the prism of hurling’s great summer

Jack McCaffrey: his inch-perfect pass to Niall Scully set up O’Callaghan for Dublin’s goal against Galway. No other team possesses their array of skills. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Jack McCaffrey's pass for the Dublin goal on Saturday typified their brilliance

Galway didn’t explode into anything on Saturday night. Somewhere along the way, it looks like they convinced themselves that this game didn’t matter. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kevin Walsh can’t just click his fingers and fix his players’ attitude before Saturday

David Clifford celebrates his crucial late goal for Kerry against Monaghan at Clones, a goal which threw the Kingdom a crucial lifeline. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

David Clifford’s goal changed everything – there’s optimism in the Kingdom air again

Kevin McStay: Roscommon  have to go away and come up with a new plan over the winter now. The Super 8s have knocked all the wheels off their wagon. The old phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for’ springs to mind. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Roscommon need a new plan after their lack of physicality proved telling

Dublin’s Dean Rock  kicking a free against Laois in the Leinster  Final. The challenge for Dublin is to keep tuned up, that’s the hardest job when you’re on top of the playing tree.  Photograph:  Bryan Keane/Inpho

Beauty of Super 8s is that every team is stepping onto virgin ground in terms of format

Kildare’s David Hyland celebrates with his mother Máire after the victory over Mayo  at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

They won’t be able to call on the same sort of adrenaline rush that helped see off Mayo

Will there be an away team at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge this weekend? Photograph: Inpho

People were just waiting for somebody to take a stand against the GAA and this is it

Kerry will bring a big crowd, if only to see the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the first time. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

But being at home with nothing to lose on a Saturday night are perfect conditions for it

Damien Comer: he is a  prime example of what is possible for Galway. He is loving being the leader of their attack. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Roscommon will give Kevin Walsh’s team a good idea of where they currently stand

Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe appealing to the umpire after a goal was given in the match between Waterford and Tipperary. Photograph: Piaras Ó Midheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Have you ever heard an umpire’s name mentioned? Not once. They're invisible

Kerry’s David Clifford is tackled by Dublin’s  Jonny Cooper. There is a lot of expectation in Kerry su-rrounding Clifford and his young team-mates. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Eamonn Fitzmaurice has no choice but to go with youth but it's far from an ideal situation

Monaghan’s Gavin Doogan, Darren Hughes and Neil McAdam battle for possession with Paul Flynn and Brian Fenton of Dublin. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

In a normal year they’d be huge contenders but the new structure won’t suit them

Will  Mayo players spend the next few weeks mourning the loss of Tom Parsons to injury? That’s not how it works. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

When you’re injured, as Parsons is, you can offer nothing to the team in my experience

The Galway V Mayo match at the weekend is unlikely to be the earth-shattering event everyone is making it out to be. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Hype around Mayo-Galway clash is misplaced given shift in priorities caused by reforms

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan in action against  Keith Higgins of Mayo. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rivalry with Mayo is defining Dublin – they’re the best two teams of last 30 years

Diarmuid Connolly: would straight away become the best non-injured player ever to be held out of an All-Ireland final starting line-up. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The champions have the subs to kick for home during the vital final quarter

Paddy Durcan: you couldn’t ask for a better put-together score under time pressure than his late equalising point in the drawn game against Kerry.  Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Stephen Rochford’s men have improved and have never been in better shape than now

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton. “Everything that is good about Dublin in a general sense starts with Cluxton in a specific sense.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tyrone masterclass raises question - do we take Dublin goalkeeper for granted?

Jack Barry got himself in on goal but he didn’t have the composure to realise that Jack Savage was inside with nobody on him. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Curbing Kerry's Kieran Donaghy remains a major problem for Mayo’s management

Galway’s Eoghan Kerin  and Kerry’s James O’Donoghue in the quarter-final at  Croke Park in July. Kerry  got past Galway, yet  a lot of their guys didn’t play well. Photograph: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

I feel there are a bunch of Kerry lads who are sore about their form against Galway

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea celebrates after Cillian O’Connor scored his side’s fourth goal against Roscommon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Barring the top three or four counties, there’s no prospect of glory in this game

Jamie Clarke: In his games this year, you can see he’s coming with a different attitude. That has to be down to McGeeney. Photograph: Tom Beary/Inpho

At this stage of the season, Dublin and Kerry have a level of buy-in few can match

Mayo know better than anyone that qualifier form is irrelevant when you get to Croke Park. This is where serious business begins.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Shadow-boxing is over and Aidan O’Shea is leading his team-mates by example

Dublin star Bernard Brogan in action during the Leinster GAA Senior Football Championship Final victory against Kildare in Croke Park. Player  kicked five points under heavy pressure. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Every team is trying to gain that elusive edge as the All-Ireland SFC really kicks into gear

Brian Cody: He was like a bear on the sideline, striding up and down it looking for war. And he didn’t care who gave it to him . . . he was in lawless form. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Like Micko or Páidí – Kilkenny man’s devotion to the cause inspirational for players

Paul Geaney scores a goal for Kerry in the Munster SFC Final against Cork at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The way Kerry, Dublin and Mayo move the ball is too much for lesser teams

Cork manager Peadar Healy celebrates the  semi-final victory over Tipperary with Luke Connolly at  Páirc Uí Rinn. Cork always have hope when they play Kerry. Always. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Peadar Healy’s team in the perfect position to spring unlikely ambush on the Kingdom

Rory Gallagher: helpless as a Donegal side in transition were overwhelmed by a well-honed and more experienced Tyrone outfit.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Andy McEntee, Rory Gallagher and Derek McGrath looked on in horror last weekend

Tipperary’s Brian Fox celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Cork in last year’s Munster SFC semi-final. Cork cannot afford another defeat when the sides meet again on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

If Cork lose to Tipp for second year in row the consequences for Cork football will be massive

Tomás, Darragh and Marc Ó Sé at a Kerry training session in 2009: We were well used to the lads from the Sports Council arriving to do tests. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

GAA needs more than fear and paranoia to stave off the very real threat of doping

Dublin’s goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton: Rule change would have affected his short kick-outs.   Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

When other sports change rules there is never any of this carry-on

David Moran lording it in the league final. ‘Apparently now he’s going badly. Clubs have no patience for any county player at this time of year.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Footballers all over cannot wait for championship to start and club headache to end

Kerry have no choice here. They have to go to Croke Park and tear into the Dubs. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

This game will be worth a month’s training for Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s team

Colm Cooper celebrates scoring a goal against Cork in the closing minutes of the 2008 All-Ireland semi-final replay at Croke Park.

I played with some brilliant players but Gooch was up there with any of them

‘The player of the year would have to be Brian Fenton.’ Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

‘People give out about the championship all the time but I must say I enjoyed it this year’

Dublin’s James McCarthy and Ciaran Kilkenny after the after the All-Ireland final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

In other eras, you could always rely on the odd Dub to get carried away with himself

Paul Flynn is tackled by Mayo’s Séamus O’Shea. I’d expect Jim Gavin to keep faith with Flynn and Bernard Brogan. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Dublin’s greater scoring power could tell in better conditions but wet would suit Mayo

Mayo’s Donal Vaughan is tackled by Dublin’s Brian Fenton in Sunday’s draw: “Nothing stings like turning up in an All-Ireland final and letting it pass you by.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Mayo will have their work cut out containing Dubs in All-Ireland football final replay

Stephen Cluxton fails to stop Paul Geaney scoring a goal for Kerry. Cluxton is Dublin’s strongest link and if you break that, there’s a chance the whole thing goes to pieces. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Stephen Cluxton and Cian O’Sullivan are the two players the underdogs must target

Mayo’s age profile is a huge help to them. You look around that Mayo team and it’s very hard to pick out a selfish player. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Players trying to win an All Star on All-Ireland final day leave a fair stink in the air

Cian O’Sullivan challenges Kerry’s Paul Geaney. The message was clear – score your point but expect to eat a bit of dirt as well. I love to see that in a player. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry gave all they could but it wasn’t enough as Jim Gavin’s men rose to the challenge

I’m looking at Kerry and I’m looking at Fitzy and I refuse to believe that these guys are going to let Dublin be the thing that hangs over them. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Danger for players is they’ll be remembered as the Kerry team that couldn’t beat Dublin

An All-Ireland semi-final is a massive achievement for Tipperary and manager Liam Kearns. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The last four is a huge achievement for Tipp but Mayo are a proven, seasoned outfit

Seán Cavanagh gets in a tangle with Mayo’s Lee Keegan at Croke Park. There’s nothing new about the targeting of top players in the world of intercounty football. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tyrone and Seán Cavanagh know when you live by the sword you can also die by it

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea: If you’re a Mayo player this week, you have to be getting into the state of mind that says these Tyrone lads are going to be put in their place. Photograph: inpho

Now is the time to start rolling out small surprises for All-Ireland football quarter-finals

Tyrone’s Peter Harte keeps Donegal’s Michael Murphy at bay during the Ulster final in Clones. Harte’s winning point was an absolutely mighty score, no doubt about it. But would Donegal have given up that space in the middle for him to run into inside the opening 10 minutes? Not a hope. Inside the opening hour? Pretty unlikely, I’d say. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

New normal is six minutes of stoppage time, which is enough for games to change utterly

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan celebrates finding the net against Westmeath in the Leinster final. His three points in the second half showed how well he knows every blade of grass in Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Donegal are in decline but Mickey Harte’s Tyrone are absolutely galloping over the hill

Nobody cut loose in the Connacht final. Nobody was prepared to lose the ball or to trust the skills they’d spent a lifetime developing. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht final was boring because players were afraid to try anything outside the script

“Dublin’s Brian Fenton  has ruled the roost in the last two games against Kerry so he’s an obvious target for David Moran to fix his sights on.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s men may not have found their groove but there’s still time

If Mayo are  going to salvage anything, then the next couple of weeks are the most important all year. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Defeat Fermanagh and they can rediscover real momentum along the qualifer route

Galway’s Thomas Flynn celebrates after scoring a crucial goal during the victory over Mayo at McHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Kevin Walsh was never going to let Mayo stroll to a sixth Connacht title in a row

Cork’s defeat to Kildare last summer should have been the first and last reason that Tipperary wouldn’t catch them on the hop. Photograph:Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipp weren’t waiting in the long grass – Cork just didn’t react the way top players should

A young Daragh Ó Sé of An Gaeltacht is tackled by Tara’s Paul Kerrigan during the Comortas Na Gaeltacthta in 2003. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Watching it on TG4 over the weekend revived memories of some great times

Kerry’s Declan O’Sullivan lifts the Sam Maguire as Kerry retain the All-Ireland title in 2007. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Loss of Jack McCaffrey and Rory O’Carroll may just be the jolt Dublin need

“If you could see into certain players’ heads like you could with Homer Simpson, there’d be a monkey riding a bicycle across a tightrope”

If you want to design a great intercounty football team, what would be first on the list?

Dublin are the best funded GAA team around and it has played a significant role in their recent successes. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

At the season’s end, the teams who’ve done best will be those who’ve spent the most

The new mark rule will reward the skill of high fielding. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

Struggle that it was to get passed by congress, rule to encourage return of skill worth effort

Kerry’s Colm Cooper battles for possession with Philly McMahon, a player who performs better when he’s getting under the opposition’s skin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Philly McMahon point was moment I knew Kerry’s goose was probably cooked

Donegal’s Karl Lacey returns to the dressing rooms after All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry in 2014. Photograph Cathal Noonan/Inpho

This will be a cagey affair but I expect Kerry to come through thanks to more scoring options

Goalkeeper Robert Hennelly’s two bad kickouts that lead to Dublin’s first two goals illustrated Mayo’s lack of composure when it really mattered.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo just didn’t have the composure to close out the semi-final replay against Dublin

Referee Joe McQuillan awards Mayo a penalty on Sunday. With no help from a TMO, a ref must depend on linesmen who pick up only half of what’s going on and umpires who are just along for the ride. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Dublin-Mayo game illustrated that there’s no job worse than being GAA referee

Stephen Cluxton: his kick-outs are vital to Dublin’s prospects on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

If they get enough possession, Dublin’s forwards will score more than Mayo

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has always favoured players who are instinctively going to do the right thing in tight spots, and won’t tolerate players who make handling errors. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

As a Kerryman, last thing I want is team coming up to Croke Park with siege mentality

Aidan O’Shea gets away from Donegal’s Neil McGee and Mark McHugh during Saturday’s quarter-final: the Mayo player passed a big test in Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Brolly was wrong about Donegal, but he could goad the Dalai Lama into an argument

Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan scores a goal despite the attention of Kildare’s Ciarán Fitzpatrick and Eoin Doyle during last weekend’s one-sided All-Ireland SFC quarter-final clash at Croke Park.Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

What we saw on Sunday was two exceptional teams who will take all the stopping this year

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton leads his players in the team parade before the Leinster final against Westmeath. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

If Dublin lose, one of the reasons will be the fact that they were not tested all year

Could Jim McGuinness, Jim Gavin or  Éamonn Fitzmaurice, above,  win an All-Ireland if put in charge of Cavan, Sligo, Tipperary or Meath? The answer is, I believe, emphatically no. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

‘Manager can get them to the gates, but sacking of a city goes to those first over the walls’

Darragh Ó Sé shadows Graham Canty in the Munster semi-final replay in 2009. It was a game in which Kerry failed to match Cork’s tempo – but they were to regain their momentum in the qualifiers. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

Cork and Kerry will be desperate to avoid the qualifiers with Dublin waiting to pounce

Alan O’Connor put in a towering performance in the centre of the pitch  last Sunday and as the game wore on, his self-belief got stronger and stronger. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Alan O’Connor put in towering performance as he led side from the middle against Kerry

The easy thing to say watching Westmeath making that comeback against Meath would be that they had great team spirit. If team spirit was so important, where was it when they were getting beaten out the gate in the first half? Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

All-Irelands are won with talent, motivation and tactics – team spirit is overstated

Rory Gallagher and Donegal have been getting the best out of Michael Murphy by playing him in the middle of the park. Photograph: Inpho

Teams are putting huge energy into taking game away from opposition’s key player

Galway’s Michael Lundy and Mayo’s Lee Keegan wrestle before the ball is thrown in. “The distance between club and county is light years. You never realise it until it happens to you.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The best player on the best club team in Ireland was given a lesson by Lee Keegan

Galway’s Greg Higgins and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea: Mayo beat Galway by 17 points two years ago, but the gap has been narrowing. Photograph: Inpho

Beating Galway would give Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly something to hang their hat on

Being congratulated by Páidí Ó Sé after the 2002 All-Ireland semi-final. When Páidí managed Kerry, he knew exactly what to do to me. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Taking charge of an intercounty team takes conviction, planning and personality

Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell, seen here battling for possession with James McEnroe, showed a brilliant burst of power and pace to break through the Cavan defence and score a point. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Monaghan’s blanket is more evolved than Cavan’s and they did homework better too

Tempers flare between Donegal and Tyrone players during Sunday’s intense Ulster Championship match. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

I always thought that guys who were mouthing at me were wasting their energy

Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony clashes with Donegal’s Michael Murphy during last Sunday’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Kerry manager and his players fully deserve every plaudit that comes their way

Donegal’s Michael Murphy and Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony in the GAA Senior Championship quarter final at Croke Park in 2012. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Kingdom have more of a scoring threat and won’t give away goals like Dublin did

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