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30th Aug 2013

Dublin v Kerry: Johnny Doyle and Ciaran Whelan give the expert opinion

With a little help from eircom ambassadors Johnny Doyle and Ciaran Whelan, we look forward to the big one between Dublin and Kerry this weekend and predict how it’s going to go down.

Conor Heneghan

With a little help from eircom ambassadors Johnny Doyle and Ciaran Whelan, we look forward to the big one between Dublin and Kerry this weekend and predict how it’s going to go down.

Ask your average GAA supporter to name the biggest rivalry in Gaelic Football and chances are they’ll come back to you with Dublin v Kerry. This is despite the fact that they have only met on five occasions in the Championship since the turn of the millennium and Dublin were on the end of fairly big hammerings in two of those games.

The rivalry, of course, is rooted in some classic encounters between the sides in the 1970s and such is the legacy of those games that any meeting between them is greeted with relish today.

In any case, there are enough talking points and areas of debate around this Sunday’s game that it would be hugely anticipated in its own right even without the rivalry and the full house in Croker this weekend should be treated to a cracker.

In the lead up to the game, we sought the opinions of eircom ambassadors Johnny Doyle and Ciaran Whelan, both of whom have an intimate knowledge of Dublin but also know enough about Kerry not to be entirely confident that we will end up with the Dublin v Mayo final that everyone seems to have predicted from a long way off.

“Dublin are absolutely awesome and from a neutral point of view looking at them, they play an attacking brand of football, they’re very entertaining, they kick some brilliant scores and what they do, they do very well,” says Johnny Doyle.

“Saying that, I’d be nervous if I was a Dub because we’re hearing absolutely nothing about Kerry, you’d think they were out of championship and I’d be worried from a Dubs point of view because Kerry are either afraid of their lives or they’re down there plotting and they don’t lose many.

“I think Dublin might have too much for them but a lot of Kerry’s old guard will see this as a last opportunity to get an All-Ireland and a lot of their players will have played with Eamonn Fitzmaurice and they’ll want to do it for him. With the tradition and the rivalry involving these two teams form goes out the window and it’s a mouth-watering game that everyone will be looking forward to.”

Having soldiered with the Dubs for well over a decade, it’s a big statement from Ciaran Whelan to say that this is the best Dublin squad he has ever seen. That said, youth and occasional naivety might work against them on Sunday, particularly against a Kerry side that have had plenty of time to try and figure them out.

“We don’t know a whole lot about Kerry and they are lying low,” Whelan told us.

“They have only played really well for one half against Cork and Dublin don’t know what way Donaghy (who is named on the bench)  and the Gooch will line out, so there are a lot of questions for Dublin.

“On the other side, Kerry have had plenty of time to dissect Dublin who have been quite one-dimensional and played in the same manner every game. Dublin still have scope to improve and need to start taking more of their chances, but they are still winning games without playing to the best of their abilities.

“I think the key match-ups will be between the Dublin forwards and the Kerry backs and if Dublin create enough chances it could be the difference.”

Speaking of those individual match-ups, Whelan thinks that the battle between Ger Brennan and Colm Cooper could have the biggest bearing on the eventual outcome.

“If Colm Cooper does play centre-forward, it will be interesting to see how Ger Brennan plays on him, and he will have to mark him very closely and keep a close tabs on him,” Whelan added.

“Midfield will also be crucial and we saw in the first-half of the Munster final just how devastating Kerry were which laid the foundations for their victory, yet when Cork got a foothold in the second half it sucked the life out of the Kerry forwards.”

The Dubs are overwhelming favourites heading into Sunday’s game and they are for a reason. No man knows that better than Johnny Doyle, who was part of a Kildare side on the end of a 16-point drubbing by the Dubs in the Leinster Championship.

When we asked Johnny about it he intervened and said he wasn’t so much playing as ‘watching the Dublin players running by him’ before going on to name who he thinks have been the biggest influences for Jim Gavin’s men this season as well the main men from the Kingdom.

Paul Flynn 3/8/2013

Johnny Doyle says Paul Flynn is having “an unbelievable season”

“You could list a whole load of names on the Dublin side that have been impressive. Jack McCaffrey coming in has been huge, Paul Mannion’s having a great summer. Paul Flynn is having an unbelievable season. He does so much work, he gets on breaking ball and dirty ball around the middle and still gets on the end of scores. Likewise, Michael Darragh MacAuley around the middle of the field is a powerhouse.

“If you let Dublin play the football they’re capable of playing they’ll be hard to stop. Looking at Kerry, the Gooch has had new lease of life playing the playmaker role and he’s contributing scores as well, he looks so at home there you’d think he’s been there all his life.

“Elsewhere, the likes of Declan O’Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy haven’t been in the form they’d like so far but they’re probably thinking if they hit form now they can push on. There’s probably a lot of the old guard in Kerry thinking that they’ll give this one more push and if Kerry are in an All–Ireland Final there won’t be too many backing against them.”

Despite their reluctance to write off the aristocrats from the Kingdom, both Johnny and Ciaran are plumping for the Dubs to book a date with Mayo on September 22.

“You just get the feeling if they click, they could be devastating, I’m going for Dublin to reach the final,” Whelan says.

“Form goes out the window to a certain extent with Dublin v Kerry,” Doyle adds, “but you have to use something to gauge the game on and on form you would be giving Dublin the nod.”

There you have it, like last week both eircom experts are backing the favourite to do the business but no doubt that’s music to the ears of the Kerry fans relishing the prospect of a repeat of the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final this weekend.

Bring it on.

Supporters heading to Croke Park on Sunday will be able to take part in eircom’s GAA Football FanPic initiative, which allows fans to search for and spot themselves in a 360 degree photograph that will be taken of the crowds at each of the upcoming GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi Finals and Final.

GAA Football fans will have an opportunity to tag and share their photo via their Facebook account the day after each match. For more information, click here.