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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 23 September, 2017
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Dublin v Kerry: it’s part of our history

One of the GAA’s traditional rivalries is recommenced at Croker this evening.

The Dubs face their old rivals from the Kingdom in the 1984 All-Ireland final.
The Dubs face their old rivals from the Kingdom in the 1984 All-Ireland final.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

“IT’S 7.00 AND I wanna rock, Saturday nights the night I like, get a little action in”. Nobody says it better then good old Elton J.

Because at 7pm, 30 minutes before throw in, the pubs around Croke Park will be heaving with punters ready to get some action in. For tonight sees two GAA giants, reunited in battle on the hallowed Croker turf. It’s Dublin v Kerry. It’s part of our history.

See whether you’re from The Kingdom or you’re a Jackeen, if football is your persuasion then Saturday will not just be a treat. It is THE treat. Think of all the memories, all the greats who have left their mark on this fixture. Liston. Hanahoe. Spillane. Rock. The O’Sé clan. The Brogans. O’Dwyer. Heffernan.

On Saturday we go ‘round once more. Green and gold face blue and navy and we’ll all lick our lips with anticipation. Sceptics of the league sit on their couches and scoff the real football begins when the GAA don’t need half-time entertainment to draw the crowds in. But the league does matter and so does Dublin v Kerry. It always has mattered and it always will.

Pride

Both teams will bust a gut on Saturday night in search of much more then two league points. There will be real pride and passion on show and if both teams were looking to find a clue as to where they are exactly on the championship barometer, they will get real answers to their questions on Saturday.

Both teams have something to prove. Dublin, as usual, have all eyes focused on them again this year. However it’s with a different question to answer. Are they as good as their first-half performance in last year’s All Ireland semi-final defeat to Cork suggested? Or are they still frail of mind, despite all their endless brute-force drills in high intensity defending, and will lose it all in the last few minutes in the hottest heat of battle.

Kerry, since last year’s shock All Ireland quarter-final defeat to Down, have been written into that indefinable ‘transition’ period. Too much mileage in the tank you see, it’s a serious problem. Their shaky start to the campaign has done little to reassure Kingdom supporters that they will be coming out of this transitional period any time soon.

Dublin have shown very well in the league to date. Despite missing a host of key names, Pat Gilroy has managed to mould a team together who are showing increased hunger from last year. They are no longer as dependent on Bernard Brogan as the sole score collector. Renewed vigour from Diarmuid Connolly, Kevin McManamon and Mossy Quinn could make all the difference this year. And we haven’t even considered the Crokes lads yet. If their All Ireland run continues they may not be returning to the panel for a while yet.

Laying a marker

If Dublin command and conquer Kerry, with the same steel and confidence they showed to gain revenge over All Ireland Champions Cork last weekend, it will be a symbolic victory. It will be like two old ships passing in the night. One heading north, rejuvenated, in search of adventure and the promised land that has been ever illusive for so long now. The other heading home south, tired out after years of success and countless stories. For years they were the only show in town.


Considering it was 1977 the last time Dublin knocked Kerry out of the Championship (Bernard Brogan’s iconic goal and all that), it is understandable that the Kerry boys will be reluctant to pass over the baton to say the least. And it would be foolish to write them off completely with the sheer class that still togs out in green and gold. But there’s no doubt, they ain’t what they used to be.

Saturday night will come, there will be lights, cameras and we’ll get a little action in. And with no Jedward in sight, we can sit back and enjoy history unfold before our very eyes. Dublin v Kerry, again, for old times sake.

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About the author:

Mark Corcoran

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