Today sees the latest instalment of the rivalry that defines the GAA as Dublin welcome Kerry to Croke Park for the second All Ireland semi-final. In another era a meeting between these two sides at this stage would be seen as the real decider of the competition, but with a powerful looking Mayo side waiting in the final one team or the other will have to put in two massive performances to seal All Ireland glory.Click Here To Watch Dublin vs Kerry Live GAA Football
All-Ireland Football Semi-Final – Dublin vs Kerry
Sunday, September 1
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship 2013 Semi Final
Kerry vs Dublin, Páirc an Chrócaigh, 15:30 (Live on RTÉ)
The pretext for this game differs somewhat from most of the recent meetings between the two sides, in that Dublin are clear and justifiable favourites, although fans in the capital will no doubt be wary of that position having been famously stung in 2009 when a Kerry side whose demise had been greatly exaggerated sprang to life and put Pat Gilroy’s men to the sword.
There is little doubt that the form guide points very strongly towards Dublin ahead of this clash. Having disposed of Tipperary and Waterford with the expected ease in the early rounds, Kerry appeared to serve notice of their All Ireland credentials when putting on a scintillating show in the first half of the Munster final against neighbours Cork. The second half, however, reraised persistent questions about the Kingdom’s ability to put in a 70 minute display, as the Rebels came roaring back as Kerry wilted under the beaming sun in Killarney.
Having hung on for a two point win on that occasion, Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men repeated the trick in the All Ireland quarter-final against Cavan, slicing through the Breffni men to build up a nine point lead in the first half before stuttering in the second. Again, they got the win, but questions certainly need to be asked of the stamina of a side whose most prominent members are entering if not already in the twilight of their careers.
Dublin, by comparison, are a side with youth, pace and fitness most definitely on their side. In a campaign where seasoned veterans like Bernard Brogan and Diarmuid Connolly have occasionally flattered to deceive, it is youngsters Jack McCaffrey and Ciaran Kilkenny who have been outstanding.
Having abandoned the defensive system with which Pat Gilroy masterminded the 2011 All Ireland success, new manager Jim Gavin preaches from the pulpit of open, expansive and, above all, attacking football. Dublin’s success so far this year has been based on a platform of speed, with goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton looking to get the ball in play as quickly as possible, and with the wing backs breaking forward at pace, creating overlaps and numerical mismatches in the opposition defence.
Dublin’s Leinster Championship went off without a hitch. Mauling Westmeath and Kildare in the quarter- and semi-finals, they were put to the test in the first half of the final by a Meath side that looked to put pressure on Cluxton’s kickouts, forcing him to kick the ball out to the middle to where the Royals got plenty of joy out of the extremely mobile but not aerially dominating Michael Dara McAuley and Cian O’Sullivan. In the second half however, Dublin kick on and eventually overpowered the Meath challenge.
In the quarter-final, Cork provided the Boys in Blue with another test, and again they proved too fast, too mobile and too powerful. On this occasion, Cork highlighted another potential weakness, with Ciaran Sheehan giving the Dublin full back line severe headaches with his aerial prowess. Cork failed to convert enough of their chances to cause the Dubs real concern however, and a much improved midfield performance from the Metropolitans allowed them to create multiple goal chances of their own.
If Dublin can repeat that midfield display against the Kingdom and convert a greater proportion of the goal chances they create it is hard to think that even the storied Kerry forward line will have enough firepower to live with them.
On all available evidence, it is very hard to see beyond Dublin in this one. The few pundits that have tipped a Kerry win have almost to a man pointed to intangibles to support their arguments. The Kingdom’s pride, their ability to open the taps when they get to Croke Park and an abiding faith that they have on big performance in them all feature high on the list.
What seems certain is that for Kerry to win the planets will have to align – they will need to produce their best performance of the year and hope that a largely inexperienced back line can cope with a Dublin attack that has threatened to cut loose on several occasions already this year.
In these intangibles balance out over the course of the 70 minutes, expect Dublin to come through with three or four points to spare.