Kevin McManamon key man for Dublin in All-Ireland semi-final
Dublin (probable): S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper, D Byrne; J McCarthy, C O’Sullivan, J Small; B Fenton, MD Macauley; P Flynn, K McManamon, C Kilkenny; D Rock, D Connolly, B Brogan
IT’S widely expected that James McCarthy will be fit to return from injury and take his place in the Dublin half-back line, thus imposing a slight reshuffle that will see Paddy Andrews lose his place at full-forward. He can have few complaints after a quiet display against Donegal.
McCarthy will slot straight in at wing-back, and that will push Ciarán Kilkenny into the half-forward line after a profitable spell in the deeper position.
Paul Mannion’s impressive late cameo against Donegal probably won’t be enough to force him into the starting fifteen, with Dean Rock’s dead-ball ability likely to earn him a slightly tentative nod from Jim Gavin.
Kerry (probable): B Kelly; S Enright, K Young, B Ó Beaglaoich; P Crowley, M Griffin, J Lyne; D Moran, D Walsh; S O’Brien, P Murphy, D O’Sullivan; P Geaney, K Donaghy J O’Donoghue
ÉAMONN Fitzmaurice will probably have had an idea in his head for a long time now of what team he will want to send out against Dublin. The word coming out of the Kingdom is that changes are afoot. It’s set to be a straight shootout for a half-forward place between Colm Cooper and Stephen O’Brien, with suggestions that O’Brien may get the nod on the basis of Cooper’s disappointing display in last year’s final. Donnacha Walsh is set to play an unfamiliar midfield role in order to pick up the runs of Michael Darragh Macauley on Dublin’s kickouts. Kieran Donaghy is expected to play on the edge of the square with Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue either side of him. Mark Griffin will move out from full-back to centre-half and Jonathan Lyne is set to be reintroduced at wing-back, with Tadhg Morley dropping out.
DUBLIN TACTICAL TAKE
IT was hardly their most impressive performance of all time against Donegal the last day out, but it was a composed, measured display from a team that did what it needed to do. Whatever about the quality, they showed that they had learned the harsh lesson of 2014 by not getting sucked in to Donegal’s defensive swarm. Kerry displayed an ability to play that same way in the final of two years ago and it would not be a massive surprise to see Fitzmaurice unfurl that tactic again. If so, Dublin have shown they can react. They will fell that this is the day they can finally answer the questions over their full-back line. Philly McMahon will be needed on the edge of the square to protect against the threat of Kieran Donaghy. Stephen Cluxton was flustered at times in last year’s final and with Donnacha Walsh reported to be set for a midfield berth for Kerry, there’s clearly the will there to shut the Dublin kickout down.
KERRY TACTICAL TAKE
AS always against Dublin, the onus is on the opposition to produce that something special. Éamonn Fitzmaurice has studied them judiciously and, as such, this has almost become a game that will define his era in charge. Putting Kieran Donaghy to full-forward would be nothing new but he is expected to go with that plan in a bid to test the Dublin full-back line aerially. Tales from the Kingdom suggest that Colm Cooper won’t start but that would still be a surprise, especially given that Philly McMahon will be occupied by Donaghy. They are also expected to push a man – most likely Paul Murphy – right up on to Cian O’Sullivan in a bid to make him defend and pull him out of the space in front of the Dublin goalmouth.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
WITH all the litany of attacking options that surrounded him, it was McManamon’s single-mindedness and his drive that carried Dublin through their quarter-final. While so many of his team-mates were content to stay on the periphery of Donegal’s mass defence, the St. Jude’s man was fearless. When he had the ball, he looked to drive at them and commit defenders. It was hugely effective. He kicked three points from play, each one better than the last, and was the outstanding player on the pitch. He has only scored 1-6 across his four games this summer, but given his history against Dublin - netting crucial late goals in both 2011 and 2013 - the Kingdom defence will be on high alert.
Cian O’Sullivan v Paul Murphy
BE it at midfield, as a man-marking defender or as the best sweeper in the modern game, Cian O’Sullivan has proven himself time and again in the blue of Dublin. Of the last while, the strength of the blues’ forward line has afforded him the luxury of dropping off and playing full-time on his own 21’, protecting the goal superbly. No team has really shown the bravery to attack that Dublin strength, but it appears that Kerry are going to try. They are set to push Paul Murphy – who has been a revelation this season in a new half-forward position – right up on to the Kilmacud Crokes man. If they do that, the key will be that Murphy is clinical in possession. Only then will O’Sullivan be forced to pick him up.
KERRY would have been praying for an improvement on the monsoon conditions the two sides were met by last September and it appears that they will get their wish. There may be an odd shower but Sunday is set to be a fairly dry day in the capital.
WHO’S THE REF?
David Gough (Meath)
THAT he has been given one of the two semi-finals seems a bit of shame because it appears to rule the best referee in the country at present out of refereeing this year’s All-Ireland final. That said, there are few bigger occasions than a Championship meeting of Dublin and Kerry. Refereed Mayo’s quarter-final win over Tyrone and was brave in a handful of his decisions, not least sending Sean Cavanagh off.
PATHS TO THE SEMI-FINAL
Munster SFC semi-final, June 12: Kerry 2-23 Clare 0-17
Munster SFC final, July 3: Kerry 3-17 Tipperary 2-10
All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, July 13: Kerry 2-16 Clare 0-11
Leinster SFC quarter-final, June 5: Laois 2-10 Dublin 2-21
Leinster SFC semi-final, June 26: Dublin 0-21 Meath 0-11
Leinster SFC final, July 17: Dublin 2-19 Westmeath 0-10
All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, August 6: Dublin 1-15 Donegal 1-10
Dublin (-3) 6/5
Draw (-3) 8/1
Kerry (+3) 5/6
Bernard Brogan 7/1, Paul Geaney 7/1, No goalscorer 13/2
LAST CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING
2015 All-Ireland SFC final: Dublin 0-12 Kerry 0-9
A HUGELY anticipated All-Ireland final turned into a damp squib, literally, as Dublin won their third title in five years in the Croke Park downpour.
A strong first half proved more than half the battle as Jim Gavin's side built up a four-point half-time lead after a strong finish to the opening half, when they outscored holders Kerry by six points to one.
It afforded the Sky Blues a cushion that they relied upon throughout an error-strewn game that they ultimately deserved to win and, in truth, could have won by more.
Dean Rock, Brian Fenton and Paddy Andrews all failed to capitalise on great goal chances, though Kerry were unable to punish the capital county.
Kerry fashioned one last chance but when Kieran Donaghy fed Killian Young, the defender fumbled the ball and allowed Dublin to break and move four clear through the now-retired Alan Brogan.