Football preview: An Clasaic

THE 2013 VIDEO says it better than most. After a season that stuttered and started, that exploded and misfired, that provided precious few memorable moments, it climaxes with the old order. It’s the Barcelona-Real Madrid, the Brazil-West Germany, the Hendry-White, the United-Liverpool. The third Sunday of September will see Dublin (1st, 2009) meet Kerry (2nd, 1951).

When the sides met in the 2013 semi-final there was a sense that the game would ascend into a fire-fight, and that the strongest attack would survive. Indeed, so it turned out to be: despite Kerry roaring into an early lead, it was a flurry of Dublin scores at the death that sent the Metropolitans into a seven-point victory.

This time around I personally suspect the match may instead be won by the better defence. Dublin will be well served by getting two decent games against Mayo; they will have learned much more about themselves in squandering one seven point lead, and solidifying another, than in any facile destruction of Westmeath or Fermanagh. Just as Kerry were well served by getting two games against Cork, so too will Dublin be all the better for an extra clash.

But both finalists learned in their drawn games that their attacks are in good shape – and it’s their defence porousness that will be the greater cause of concern. Kerry conceded 3-12 in the drawn Munster final; Dublin shipped 2-15 to Fermanagh and then 1-15 and 1-14 against Mayo (albeit with Mayo being a more potent force). If both attacks function to their best, the game will transform into basketball. It will be the more solid defensive six that will win this game. And with that in mind, maybe Kerry are better served leaving Marc Ó Sé to see out the final stages than have him start and tire when the Dublin bench gets unloaded.

On neutral ground the Dubs would be 56.6% likely to win this one. Notionally, because they are playing in the same place they play every Championship match, they are fancied by 67.4% (almost the same advantage they held over Mayo second time out). But Kerry are never more at home than in Croker; it will almost be as if both sides are at home.

Let’s hope it goes as it should.

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