Dublin v Kerry: Experts' opinions on where the game will be won and lost

All-Ireland final vox pop: John Heslin, Bríd Stack, Conor McManus and Ian Burke give their thoughts

Kerry’s Paul Murphy in action against  Dublin’s Brian Fenton in 2016. The two players will be key to their sides’ respective hopes on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry’s Paul Murphy in action against Dublin’s Brian Fenton in 2016. The two players will be key to their sides’ respective hopes on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

John Heslin (Westmeath)

Where will the game be won and lost?

I don’t think Kerry will have enough defensively as a whole to combat the Dubs. They’re just too strong and powerful in their attacking options. At this point in time for this Kerry team, I think it could just be a little too early to dethrone them. If Kerry are to go out and beat the Dubs they need to be able to change their game-plan up every ten or 12 minutes. They just cannot let the game settle. Whether Tommy Walsh and David Moran are there from the start or whether Walsh comes on, they need to keep changing it up.

Which match-ups will have the most significant impact on the game?

With this Dublin team there are so many match-ups that are important. First and foremost there’s Con O’Callaghan obviously – he’s playing remarkable stuff. Whether Tom O’Sullivan goes on him we’ll see, but O’Callaghan is number one. Then there’s Paul Mannion, Ciarán Kilkenny, Brian Fenton and they are going to have to do something to counteract Jack McCaffrey. There could be a shout to put Paul Murphy on Kilkenny but there could also be a shout to put him on McCaffrey. Looking at Brian Fenton, David Moran will probably take him up. Con O’Callaghan is the main threat anyway. It’s been well-documented who Tom O’Sullivan has marked throughout the championship and he’s kept them relatively scoreless.

John Heslin: “I don’t think Kerry will have enough defensively as a whole to combat the Dubs.” Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
John Heslin: “I don’t think Kerry will have enough defensively as a whole to combat the Dubs.” Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Will there by any late surprises?

Would anything be a surprise at the moment? Probably not. I don’t think Diarmuid Connolly will start even if he could ruffle a few feathers. I think he’ll be kept in reserve. Then, with Tommy Walsh for Kerry – it wouldn’t be a surprise if he started. But I don’t think he’ll be in from the start. That remains to be seen but I don’t think there will be any major surprise. Kerry have to be able to change up their attack against Dublin so we may see a lot of that. They’re well able to do it.

Prediction:

The Dubs will win by a few points and they’ll be deserved champions with the five-in-a-row. Will Kerry push them? They will but they don’t have enough at this particular time to beat them. I’d love to see Tommy Walsh and David Moran spend two or three sets of ten minutes in the full-forward line, kicking high ball in and changing up their game-plan. Then, they can play a short game as well where they can utilise Geaney and Clifford and Stephen O’Brien et cetera. You need an A, B and C if you’re going to beat the Dubs.

Bríd Stack (Cork)

Where will the game be won and lost?

This is the game I always wanted to see from the time they met down in Tralee. Kerry just have that skill level, that extra bit of class, the tradition. They probably have more options than any other team in the country. For me the most noteworthy thing will be what Kerry have learnt from both of the semi-finals and what plans they have in place for Dublin’s kick-outs. We saw the 12-minute blitz Dublin inflicted on Mayo in their semi-final so how will Kerry cope with that? That will be the biggest test on Sunday.

Which match-ups will have the most significant impact on the game?

Tom O’Sullivan has been having a great year but who do you deploy him on? The headache for Kerry is that Dublin have so many options available. Obviously Jason Foley has huge, huge speed so he could go on Mannion. Tadhg Morley, I suppose, could go on Dean Rock. But you have an option like Eoghan O’Gara coming in and we saw against Cork in the Munster final how Morley was under a small bit of pressure under the high ball. You’d expect Jack Barry to pick up Brian Fenton and Michael Dara Macauley will be pumped up for David Moran. The midfield pairing will be the one with a massive bearing on the outcome.

Bríd Stack: “Dublin have so many options but Kerry, in fairness, have more options this year compared to other years.”
Bríd Stack: “Dublin have so many options but Kerry, in fairness, have more options this year compared to other years.”

Will there by any late surprises?

Tommy Walsh is probably the one I’d have my eye on. As well, James O’Donoghue is back now. Kerry’s forwards are really their trump card and a player like Tommy Walsh could be central to their plans coming down the home straight.

Or do you start him and try to get an upper hand in the midfield battle? He has a lot of experience playing in an All-Ireland final and winning in an All-Ireland final. That will clearly be a boost to Kerry. Dublin have so many options but Kerry, in fairness, have more options this year compared to other years.

Prediction:

I think Dublin will win by about three or four points but Kerry will give them a hell of a fight on the day. But so many factors come into play in an All-Ireland final; mistakes can be made in a high-pressure situation. And it’s up to players to adapt quickly. Dublin are going for the five-in-a-row and Kerry are going in with absolutely nothing to lose. Tomás Ó Sé spoke of this being a free shot for Kerry. The weight of expectation is all on Dublin and Kerry could be lucky and take advantage of that.

Conor McManus (Monaghan)

Where will the game be won and lost?

The game will be won and lost on Kerry’s ability to withstand the Dublin attack. Obviously they’re in an All-Ireland final so they’ve done an awful lot of things right to get that far. One part of Kerry’s game of note, in a lot of Kerry’s games, has been their defence and if they can keep Dublin at bay at this end of the field they have more than enough armoury in their squad to do plenty of damage at the opposite end of the pitch.

Which match-ups will have the most significant impact on the game?

A lot of it goes back to the Dublin attack and the Kerry defence. Because Dublin have so many quality forwards there you’re looking at a number of match-ups. Who is going to pick up Con O’Callaghan? You have Paul Mannion playing as well as he has ever played, too. They did a lot of damage against Mayo so they’re definitely going to have to be curtailed. Brian Fenton has been remarkable, especially in the last 10 or 15 minutes when he’s been getting stronger. But Jack Barry has done well on him in the past so you could see him on Fenton.

Will there by any late surprises?

In order to beat Dublin you have to do something a wee bit different. If Tommy Walsh can replicate his performance from the last day over 60 or 70 minutes he’s a huge handful for any defence. He gives Kerry a lot of aerial threat as well. There’s never really a surprise with the Dublin team. They have that many experienced players at this stage. The last day they didn’t start the likes of Cian O’Sullivan or Philly McMahon and if they do start it’s no big surprise. Whatever Jim Gavin decides to roll with it’s not really going to be a surprise.

Conor McManus: “In order to beat Dublin you have to do something a wee bit different.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Conor McManus: “In order to beat Dublin you have to do something a wee bit different.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Prediction:

Kerry have the ability to pose problems to any defence in the country so I think it could be closer than a lot of people are expecting. It all comes back to how Kerry’s full-back line can cope with Dublin’s forward line. I think this game could go down to the last 15 minutes and right down the stretch. And, of course, that’s the game we’re all looking for. But it’s very hard to look past Dublin at the moment. Ultimately I think it’s going to be a Dublin victory by about three or four points.

Ian Burke (Galway)

Where will the game be won and lost?

I think there are going to be three big areas. The first one is probably kick-outs. Dublin are very good on their own kick-outs as well as the opposition’s. How Kerry combat both sides will be key. Do they push up on Dublin’s kick-outs? Do they sit back and try and contain them? Will Shane Ryan go short or go long to launch attacks? Secondly, I think midfield will be huge. That could have a big bearing on the outcome. And thirdly, what the Dubs are brilliant at is their conversion rate. They don’t rack up double-digit wides. So Kerry are going to have to be brutally efficient up top.

Which match-ups will have the most significant impact on the game?

There are any amount of match-ups really. The midfield one could be fascinating. There’s David Moran and Brian Fenton – they’re the two in-form midfielders in the country so there’s going to be a huge battle on there. There’s talk about Jack Barry coming in and going on Fenton. You need an athlete, you need a baller, you need one of these individuals that can keep an eye on Brian Fenton for the entire game. I think Brian Fenton has scored 3-8 from play so far this year, the third highest scorer for the Dubs. You need to quell his influence.

Ian Burke: “My head just says Dublin. Kerry need to stay in the game for as long as they can.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Ian Burke: “My head just says Dublin. Kerry need to stay in the game for as long as they can.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Will there by any late surprises?

There are rumours, one being Tommy Walsh coming in for Kerry, maybe offering a Twin Towers effect with Clifford. I think it takes a bit of pressure off Clifford having a guy like Tommy Walsh there. But do you risk him from the start? Is there another Kerry impact sub there? I think that’s going to be fascinating Then, I think Stephen O’Brien could have a big influence on the game. I could see John Small going on Sean O’Shea and that could see Eoin Murchan coming into the team.

Prediction:

I think it all has to go right for Kerry. Does the pressure of the five-in-a-row get to the Dubs? It’s hard to see it happening really. It doesn’t seem to be a factor in their camp and in the media. If that were to happen I think Kerry would be in with a chance. My head just says Dublin. Kerry need to stay in the game for as long as they can. All will be revealed on Sunday but it is interesting to think about who will go on who. But I say it will be a Dublin win by three or four or five points in the end.

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