As the days tick down towards the season’s end it gives us a chance to reflect on what has been an enjoyable season overall for Gaelic football.
Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s final between Kerry and Dublin we know we are set for a historic occasion. Either Dublin complete the ‘drive-for-five’ or Kerry become the team to stop them just as Offaly did back in 1982 when the Kingdom attempted the same feat.
With that in mind, at Pundit Arena HQ we reached out to inter-county stars around the country to get their thoughts on the All-Ireland final, the 2019 season and what the future may hold for Gaelic football.
First up, it’s Clonmel Commercials, Tipperary and Munster sharpshooter, Michael Quinlivan.
1) Who will be Dublin’s key man on Sunday and why?
James McCarthy – It will either be him or John Small who will pick up Stephen O’Brien. If they can get on top against Kerry’s key man and make him retreat with those hard runs from the half-back line then it’s a big step towards victory.
2) Who will be Kerry’s key man on Sunday and why?
Adrian Spillane/Jack Barry – Basically whoever is detailed to pick up Brian Fenton from Kerry’s midfield. I think it will be a job Adrian Spillane will have from the start with Jack Barry having a role later in the game. If Kerry are to have any chance they will have to negate Fenton’s influence in the air and driving through the middle.
3) Prediction time – Who’s going to win Sam Maguire?
Dublin by seven
4) Who’s your Footballer of the Year and Young Footballer of the Year?
It will depend on who has a good final really, any one of Fenton, O’Callaghan, Mannion or, on the Kerry side, O’Brien or Clifford. Clifford or Sean O’Shea will lead the way in the Young Footballer of the Year, though, Rian O’Neill deserves a huge mention here too.
5) What is your moment of the year?
Tipp beating Kilkenny by 14 points in an All-Ireland Hurling final. No comparison.
6) Two years down, one to go in the Super 8s! Do you think they’ve been a success and are there any changes you would make?
The key success of the Super 8s so far has been the wonderful games at provincial venues with brilliant atmospheres (Mayo Vs Donegal in 2019, Kerry Vs Monaghan in 2018). But ultimately it hasn’t fixed the problem of the unequal amounts of teams playing at provincial level. It may be the first draft of change though, through which we might find the right structure.
7) The talk of a tiered-championship is constantly bubbling below the surface. Do you think it is the way forward? Any changes to the current structure you’d personally like to see?
I’m not so sure, it has its merits if it’s promoted properly, but previous history (The Tommy Murphy Cup) has shown that if players are cast aside then it won’t be a success. It would make sense to form a working group of people from teams who would historically have been in the second tier and see what their solutions might be, as all the decisions seem to be top-down rather than bottom-up.