THE PLOTTING AND planning will have started once the semi-final business was wrapped up.
Earlier this month Dublin’s dismissal of Mayo and Kerry’s completion of their Tyrone assignment meant the final two for the 2019 All-Ireland football championship were confirmed.
After getting this far, who will Jim Gavin and Peter Keane be looking to shut down on the opposition side in order to get their hands on silverware next Sunday?
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For the champions this is a potent Kerry forward line that they will be facing. The twin dangers inside are David Clifford and Paul Geaney, with the latter showing a capacity of late to drift outfield. Both are in good recent scoring form with 0-22 from Clifford to date this summer and 2-13 amassed by Geaney.
Dublin’s specialist defenders for this task look set to be Jonny Cooper and Michael Fitzsimons. Cooper had a fine outing in taking on Clifford in a league game in March 2018. The Fossa youngster has progressed rapidly since then but that duel could be replicated to leave Fitzsimons with the role of quietening Geaney.
The added Kerry dimension for Dublin to deal with is the Kenmare duo in the half-forward line that have become integral since the counties last met in championship fare in 2016. Stephen O’Brien is approaching Player of the Year territory. Jack McCaffrey may have a similar level of acceleration but Dublin will hope to keep him free and could turn to John Small to look after O’Brien. Then Sean O’Shea, in his second season in the senior ranks, will be closely monitored, perhaps by James McCarthy.
There’s a dual Dublin attacking threat that Kerry will be keenly aware of the need to police. Con O’Callaghan and Paul Mannion are both in terrific form, as illustrated graphically by the manner in which they blitzed Mayo in the semi-final. O’Callaghan’s strength in possession poses a real difficulty and Tadhg Morley seems Kerry’s best prospect to mark him.
That leaves the question of what to do with Mannion? Tom O’Sullivan has been superb for Kerry this season in nullifying the threats of a succession of players such as Peter Harte and Jamie Brennan. Whether Kerry look to keep him close to goal to watch someone like Mannion or release him to the half-back line to look after a player like Ciaran Kilkenny, thereby entrusting Jason Foley with the inside post, will be intriguing.
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Away from their defence, Kerry need a solution at midfield given the prowess of Brian Fenton there and the transformation his play can have on Dublin’s form in a given game. David Moran has been Kerry’s midfield leader, do they pit him against Dublin’s powerhouse? Is it time to recall Jack Barry given that he has had some joy before with Fenton? Otherwise it will be Jack Sherwood, Diarmuid O’Connor or Adrian Spillane that manager Keane might turn to.
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