JOE talks to Kevin Cassidy and Barry Cahill about the Croke Park Classic, Kerry v Mayo and how Donegal can stop Dublin 7 years ago

JOE talks to Kevin Cassidy and Barry Cahill about the Croke Park Classic, Kerry v Mayo and how Donegal can stop Dublin

The two former intercounty stars talk to us about the draw between Kerry and Mayo, playing the replay in Limerick, next weekend's semi final between Dublin and Donegal and the Croke Park Classic...

JOE had the chance to chat to ex-Donegal player Kevin Cassidy and former Dublin footballer Barry Cahill this week and we covered a whole host of gaelic football topics.

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The lads were speaking ahead of the Croke Park Classic and we discussed all the talking points following the draw between Mayo and Kerry on Sunday including moving the replay to Limerick, the second semi final between Dublin and Donegal and American Football. Scroll down to read.

Kevin Cassidy and Barry Cahill speaking ahead of the Croke Park Classic

JOE: A lot to talk about after Sunday's action at Croke Park. Firstly, what did you make of Lee Keegan's red card?

Barry: When you look at the rule book, a kick is a kick no matter how petulant it is, it was a tricky situation for the referee. It was just a bit of frustration from Lee because the match probably wasn't going as well as he and Mayo had hoped at the time. But with the game going to a replay, he's got a bit of a reprieve because they didn't lose the game and he might see some action later in the year

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Kevin: It was definitely harsh. I suppose the letter of the law meant he had to go but maybe the referee didn't have to and if he'd given Lee a yellow card, I don't think anyone would have complained. As Barry said, he's lucky that it's gone to a replay and if they get to the final, he won't miss it.

JOE: Who will be happier with that result yesterday because both had real opportunities to win yet they way the game panned out, either could have lost?

Barry: There was a huge sense of relief from the players and supporters around Croke Park on Sunday evening. I think it would have been tough luck on either side if they lost. Mayo were probably a little bit fortunate at the end because Kerry had some chances to win it with James O'Donoghue's effort and Bryan Sheehan's free.

Kevin: Mayo will be disappointed that they left a five-point lead slip away so to let Kerry back in will disappoint them. But Kerry could also have won it so overall I think both teams will be relieved and whoever goes on to win, I think the game yesterday will really stand to them.

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JOE: What about the next day, who do you think is going to win the replay?

Barry: Obviously Mayo will go into the game without Lee Keegan so that will be a blow. If you look at Kerry, they probably finished the game with a stronger team than they started with Declan O'Sullivan, Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy all coming in at different stages. I know Darren O'Sullivan missed the game through injury so potentially he could be back which would be a big plus for the Kingdom.

Kevin: Yesterday will be a massive boost for Kerry. They are a team in transition and for them to come up to Croke Park and put it up to one of the favourites for the All-Ireland will do them wonders. Mayo might have a few question marks after yesterday, they didn't get their runners into it until the second half. They need to get that going from the start and not put too much emphasis on stopping James O'Donoghue because I think that's what they did yesterday at stages. I think all in all, Mayo will be slight favourites in Limerick.

JOE: The big talking point since the game has been that it will be played at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, what do you guys think of that?

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Barry: I think the college football fixture had been arranged about 15 or 18 months ago and it was the only date available to hold the game so I don't think the GAA were in a position to change it on the basis that there would be draw in the semi final. It's a tricky situation but I think there are some positives because the GAA are often criticised for not bringing big games out of Croke Park so here's a good opportunity. It's the first semi final to be held outside Croker since 1983 so it'll be a special occasion but I take the point that ideally you'd like to have All-Ireland semi finals at Croke Park.

A general view of the Gaelic Grounds 4/4/2010

Kevin: The players won't care where the game is on. If you offered the Mayo and Kerry teams an All-Ireland semi final at the start of the year, they'd have bitten your hand off so it's not a major issue for players. I think it's a great opportunity having this college football game in Croke Park in terms of tourism and I think we all need to move on. It's going to be another fantastic game in Limerick so we need to look forward to it and forget about what's happening in Croke Park.

JOE: Lads, lets focus on the All-Ireland Semi Final between Donegal and Dublin on Sunday, the odds on a Donegal win is a massive 7/1 while Dublin at 1/10, is there really that much of a gap between the sides?

Kevin: There probably is that much between the sides although those odds are a bit high. Donegal do have a chance to win the game but I'm not going to sit here and say that we have better players than Dublin because we don't. We have a chance of winning if three or four of Dublin's better players have an off-day and for our boys really perform at the top of their game. If that happens, we can win.

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Barry: I think Dublin are the best team in the country but I think those odds are a small bit over the top for a two horse race in an All-Ireland semi final, especially considering Donegal won it just two years ago. If Dublin get a quick start and a lead the next day it'll be very hard for Donegal to get back into it because of the system they play. But on the other hand, if Donegal can get a bit of a lead like they did three years ago, they could frustrate Dublin and we'd be in for a very interesting second half.

JOE: Some people are saying that this Donegal side is back to the standards of the 2012 side, do you guys think it's better, worse or pretty much the same?

Barry: I would say that they're not quite at the same level as the team that won the All-Ireland. You had the likes of Karl Lacey, who won player of the year in 2012, and Colm McFadden who was nominated as well and they haven't really hit the heights since. They have had their injury problems but they haven't quite been firing like they were a few years back. The loss of Mark McHugh hasn't helped things either because he was such a focal point in the system that Jim McGuinness employed. I think Dublin are operating at a higher level from that season while Donegal are a bit back.

Kevin: I don't think Donegal are anywhere near where they were back in 2012 for a number of reasons. Barry spoke about Karl and Colm losing a bit of form but it's really hard for those guys to be at the level they were year on year. With Mark McHugh and Ryan Bradley, who were two vital players in the system, I thought in the game against Armagh that Mark's presence was really missed. His energy was so vital to what Donegal were doing and even though they are going quite well but I don't think they're going as well as 2012.

Bernard Brogan followed by Paddy McGrath, Eamonn McGee and Neil McGee 28/8/2011

JOE: If you guys were in charge of Donegal on Sunday, what are the two or three key things that you would want to see from the team to have any chance of stopping Dublin?

Kevin: We definitely cannot go man-to-man because Dublin just have better players and if you do that, you'll be out of the game before half time. Donegal are going to be defensive, I don't see Michael Murphy playing at the edge of the square, I can see him being used as a third midfielder or a second centre half back. They'll be hoping to keep it tight and get to about 40/50 minutes being still in with a chance.

Barry: It'll be interesting to see what Jim McGuinness does about Stephen Cluxton's kick outs. I think three years ago he allowed Cluxton to kick it out to his full back line because usually when Donegal kick a wide, the attackers all retreat to the half forward line to get back into the system. I think Dublin's half back line is vital and Jim will target that area and hope to nullify the influence there by getting as many bodies back as possible and clog up the space. He got it right to an extent three years ago so they need to do something similar but get the tweaks right.

JOE: It's a huge week for the players and the supporters, do you guys still miss being involved or are you over it now?

Kevin: I know personally I played against Dublin three times in the championship and they were the biggest games of my career, playing Dublin in Croke Park is special. Our boys will be looking forward to it and even though Dublin are red hot favourite, the lads will be hugely up for it, it's a great occasion.

Barry: Personally I enjoyed the week leading into the game as most of the hard work had been done so you're usually just ticking over in terms of training. The closer you get to the game the more the pressure rises but I enjoyed that. You'd certainly miss all of that from time-to-time especially on the big days.

JOE: Prediction time lads, who is going to win it and by how much?

Kevin: I'd love to say Donegal but I can't see past Dublin so they should win by five or six points.

Barry: I can't see past Dublin either just because of the different array of options they have to change up style and all of that. I'll go with the Dubs by about five points.

JOE: What about the college football on Saturday, UCF versus Penn State. Are you guys fans of the sport?

Barry: Yeah, I've been over to the States around 10 times for games. My first one was in Boston so I'm a fan of the New England Patriots. I also follow the college football closely on ESPN so it's going to be great to see these lads in Croke Park because a lot of them will go on to play in the NFL in a few years time. I think Croke Park are hoping to bring college football games here more regularly, maybe every second year, but I'm really looking forward to it on Saturday.

Kevin: I wouldn't be as big a fan as Barry but I've been over in America in the last two summers so I've gotten into it a little bit more. Going to see training sessions and the methods was fascinating. I think it's a great idea to bring it over here and hopefully I'll make it up on Saturday evening to see it.

Barry Cahill and Kevin Cassidy were speaking ahead of the Croke Park Classic which sees University of Central Florida take on Penn State. Ticket are still available for the event, all the details are here.