All-Ireland Senior Club Football final: Kilcoo (Down) v Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Croke Park, Saturday February 12th, 5.0pm (Live on TG4)
Kilcoo will feel they owe themselves here. They had the measure of Corofin in the All-Ireland final in 2020, which was much more than what had been expected of them in the build-up. But staying in a game when you’re outmatched is one thing, actually going on and winning it is another.
Mickey Moran’s team hasn’t lost a game in the two years since and they’re back to make amends. They are at full strength and ought to be on their best shooting behaviour, turning down the shots they know they should turn down. Kilcoo have no conscience when it comes to turning a final into a grind. Kilmacud know what to expect.
Question is, will the Dublin side be able to find a way around it? They have faced plenty of sides who have dug a trench and dared them to find a way around them already but none as disciplined, aggressive and flexible as Kilcoo.
With the weather expected to be decidedly unfriendly, it's very hard to see this being anything other than a low-scoring slugfest, with chances at a premium and free-takers to the fore. Crokes have survived perfectly well without Paul Mannion but here's where the rubber truly meets the road.
A game like this will be decided by the misses as much as the scores – in that context, someone like Mannion would be a crucial component at county level, never mind club. Dara Mullin has stepped into the space to good effect and it has been noticeable how Craig Dias and Rory O'Carroll have elevated their displays in Mannion's absence.
But even if he was playing, the slight preference would have been for Kilcoo. Without him, Crokes are likely to find the puzzle beyond them.