As the All-Ireland Senior Football final between Donegal and Kerry draws ever closer, Ashling Dalton discusses three of the main talking points in the lead up to Sunday’s final.
So this week it’s all about the All-Ireland Football final between kingpins Kerry and Ulster champions Donegal. Both teams have definitely earned their place in the final, having beat Mayo and Dublin respectively; the teams everyone expected to be playing in the third sunday in September. While there are numerous talking points surrounding this clash, there are three crucial factors which will determine the outcome of Sunday’s finale.
1. The sideline battle
Never mind the players on the field, it’s all about Jim McGuinness and Eamon Fitzmaurice. Both managers are pivotal figures in their respective counties and how they line up the individual battles will be key.
Jim MacGuinness is a tactical mastermind and has built on the team that won the All-Ireland in 2012. It will be interesting how Eamon Fitzmaurice will react to these tactics. One thing is for certain, the tactical battle will be just as important as the battle happening on the pitch.
2. Donegal’s blanket defence
This is central to Donegal’s title chances. Last time against Dublin, Donegal were able to defend their lead by putting bodies up behind the ball and entrapped the Dublin attack. Scoring goals was impossible.
For Kerry to have any chance on Sunday, they need to go in at half-time leading. It will put pressure on the Donegal forwards to attack more and perhaps defend less, which in turn puts less pressure on the Kerry forwards and will liberate them. To beat Donegal, you cannot give them any lead to defend.
3. The referee
We’ve seen the hurling final and how much of a bearing a refereeing decision can have on the outcome, and at the moment it can be said that referees are under serious pressure to get the big calls right. Sunday will also mark the first All-Ireland final since the black card made its debut, which will be another talking point.
The semi-final between Kerry and Mayo highlighted officiating errors that simply cannot be made in big matches such as this. Here’s hoping all the officials get the big calls right on Sunday and we will be analysing the performances of the players on the field rather than the man in the middle.
Ashling Dalton, Pundit Arena.