As we enter the penultimate week of the Gaelic Football calendar, both the capital and the Kingdom prepare in silence under all the excitement, the nerves and the passion but now we speculate who will take Sam home and I can’t help but feel it will be Dublin.
This is no blind prediction or emotionally involved fanatic plea for glory but a simple logical analysis of what’s put in front of us. Dublin are a battle hardened, hungry, fit and adapting beast and they’re ready to pounce on their prey in the vast plains of HQ on Sunday.
Here’s why Dublin will emerge victorious:
1) Dubs will be sharper and fitter
Kerry disposed of Tyrone with relative comfort back in August, however since then they’ve been waiting for the final while their foes, Dublin, have encountered plenty of challenges. Jim Gavin’s side marched into the field of combat not once, but twice in two epics, unwanted epics in Kerry’s eyes it must be noted. The wounds inflicted by Mayo will heal and strengthen Dublin. Not to mention the sheer momentum Dublin will feel at their backs as the blue wave approaches the Kingdom. The two games of course will do the world of good in terms of fitness and sharpness, Dublin have the edge in that regard.
2) Kerry will lack the appetite
There’s nothing worse than when you’re All Ireland Champions and that crown is stripped from you as your enemies jeer and laugh. Dublin experienced that last year as Jim McGuinness masterminded their destruction and looking at it now, it was a harsh lesson but a lesson learned. Dublin will be hungry, so hungry in fact that they would fight to the death for the cause. I expect Kerry to fall into the same trap that Dublin fell into last year, lack of hunger served with a subtle dash of complacency. Like hyenas to a pack of gazelles, The Dubs will devour Kerry when it really matters, for they want it more.
3) The Numbers Game
I think everyone will agree that these two teams are the best in terms of depth and quality. Both managers can call upon an oasis of talent, youth or experience but you can’t ignore the colourful blend of fearless youths, calm experienced heads and the raw talents at the disposal of Jim Gavin. From Brian Fenton to Alan Brogan, this Dublin team has all the ingredients and mixed altogether it forms a cocktail of success. Kerry may match Dublin’s starting 15 but the finishing 15 are pivotal and the boys in blue’s reserves will be hard for Fitzmaurice’s team to match, never mind better.
4) Dubs will Adapt and Evolve
Cunning and intelligent, The Dubs under Gavin measure up their unsuspecting prey, they find their weaknesses before they pounce. Dublin will study Kerry as the game goes on and make adequate changes to counter Kerry’s strategy while they also study themselves. For nearly ten minutes in the first game against Mayo last month, Dublin panicked as someone finally managed to disengage their cruise control and they had no answer but blind panic. I can tell you for a fact it won’t happen again.The harsh lesson was once again learned, my evidence of this being the replay of that game. Dublin will evolve to counter whatever Kerry may throw forward and they won’t panic.
5) That Next Gear
Finally, when Dublin have adapted and measured up their opponent they pounce and with incendiary speed and precision. It’s like rejuvenation of some kind but when all the factors fall into the place, Dublin are unbeatable. We’ve seen it just last week against Mayo with two quick goals, let’s not forget the seven point swing in just minutes in 2013 and of course the famous All Ireland winning comeback of 2011 with two of these being against none other than Kerry. With substitutions forming the platform for this sudden but calculated shift in gear,Kerry just won’t cope and with the haunting Kevin McMannamon most likely leading the charge to glory, the Kingdom will be conquered.
So simply put, Dublin have the hunger, fitness and quality to stay with Kerry until they pounce with ferocious and unbearable force and I think Kerry will just suffocate in such an environment.