Dublin will face Kerry in next weekend’s second All-Ireland semi-final with the winner facing Mayo in next month’s decider. Here, we outline the three key battles which must be won on Sunday.
Question marks remain surrounding the Kerry team and their capabilities. Without being significantly tested this year, Kerry head in to this weekend’s semi-final as a very much unknown package.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men haven’t looked overly convincing but they have gotten the job done to date in this year’s championship. Facile wins over Clare, Tipperary and Clare have left Kerry facing a massive lift in standards this weekend.
Wing-backs Tadhg Morley and Brian Ó Beaglaoich haven’t experienced a full house in Croker while Kerry’s midfield may struggle against Brian Fenton and company. Up front, Kerry have only managed 0-34 in their last three games against the Dubs.
Dublin, on the other hand, were tested against Donegal. The Dubs displayed grit, determination and defensive stability to get over the line. However, all was not plain sailing for the Dubs. They showed a lack of discipline, resulting in both Diarmuid Connolly and Eoghan O’Gara being shown red cards.
Tempers are likely to flare on Sunday but the Dubs must keep a cool head. The three key battles are as follows.
The Midfield Area
This area is always crucial when the Dubs are in action, such is the accuracy and execution involved with Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs. Kerry’s David Moran and Kieran Donaghy were paired at midfield for Kerry in their quarter-final win over Clare but neither impressed greatly. Anthony Maher may start after returning from injury and the free-taking expertise could see Bryan Sheehan also get the nod.
It remains to be seen who lines out there for Kerry but one thing is for sure; Dublin will bring huge energy to the middle third of the pitch. Michael Darragh McAuley and Brian Fenton possess serious engines and the will not stop moving, roaming and running. Dominating proceedings around the middle will go a long way to deciding Sunday’s result.
Shane Enright v Bernard Brogan
Brogan struggled in Dublin’s All-Ireland quarter final win over Donegal. Space was at a premium in the inside forward line and it ultimately left Brogan without a point from play. The likes of Kevin McManamon, Paddy Andrews and Dean Rock stepped up to the plate with scores but Dublin will need Brogan to contribute scores on Sunday.
Shane Enright has had a fantastic season with Kerry last year, which ended with the Tarbert man collecting his first All-star. Enright has become a real leader in the Kingdom side and if he can get the better of Brogan on Sunday, it will inspire this Kerry side.
The Impact Of The Bench
In the modern era, the impact of the substitutes has been critical to the outcome of close contests. It is vital that Kerry can be with in touching distance of the Dubs with twenty minutes to go. Kerry have serious strength in depth and experience on the bench and they will need to perform to the maximum if Kerry are to win the game.
As for the reigning All-Ireland champions, they too possess serious strength and depth. The likes of Paul Mannion and Denis Bastick are used to coming in and having a major impact on games while young guns Cormac Costello and Con O’Callaghan possess huge talent.
If this eagerly awaited contest is close coming down the home straight, it will be down to the subs to swing the tie in their counties favour.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena