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Kerry head to Croke Park for another crack at knocking the Dubs off their perch

Kerry came within a whisker of ending Dublin’s unbeaten run in Tralee.

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A SUNDAY AFTERNOON of the highest drama saw reporters all over the country scrambling for their calculators as the final scores came through.

David Moran is tackled by Bernrad Brogan Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

After 65 minutes in Clones, Dublin were still trailing Monaghan while Donegal were three points ahead of Mayo in a game that started late due to crowd congestion.

It appeared we were headed for a novel league final pairing of Donegal v Monaghan, until last year’s All-Ireland finalists got their acts together and sealed late victories.

Kerry’s resounding win over Tyrone in Killarney lifted them up to second place on scoring difference leaving us with a familiar match-up of Kerry and the Dubs.

“I think Dublin came from behind again today to win, as they are prone to doing,” Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice told RTÉ Sport about the challenge facing his team.

“Playing Dublin in a provincial venue and playing Dublin in Croke Park are two different things. That’s the ultimate test really.”

Paul Geaney and manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Jim Gavin was predictably complimentary about the Munster champions.

“We had a very tough game against Kerry in Tralee a few weeks ago,” he said to RTÉ. ”It could have went either way. Over the last number of years, since I’ve been involved, there’s been very little between both sides.

“It’s another great challenge. They’ve got some players coming back from club football as well, so it’s going to be a great game.”

Kerry came within a whisker of ending Dublin’s unbeaten run in Tralee and are no doubt still smarting from their failure to put away the All-Ireland champions when they had them by the throat.

The home side notably brought a physical edge to the game with 12 yellows and a red handed out in a tempestuous affair.

Tadhg Morley and Mark Griffin with Ciaran Kilkenny Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Former Dublin player Paul Curran came out last week and criticised Kerry’s approach in his Evening Herald column, saying Fitzmaurice’s men “should be ashamed of themselves.”

He wrote: “Whether they had them or not, but they all told us they had values. They’ve abandoned them completely.

“Now, they’re playing this football … I don’t know, it’s crazy, and they’ve no chance of winning the way they’re playing. If they come out and play football and give their young fellas a chance, and play the way they played traditionally, I think they’ve a chance.

“They’re playing into their hands, and Kerry are obsessed with Dublin at the moment. Obsessed.”

It’s easy to see why Kerry would be obsessed. So long the aristocrats of the game, they’ve failed to beat Dublin in their last five competitive meetings. They haven’t beaten their great rivals in the championship since 2009.

Eoghan O'Gara lifted up during the celebrations Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

In the seven years since, Kerry have lifted one All-Ireland compared to Dublin’s four.

Dublin became the first team since Kerry to retain the All-Ireland, and they broke an 84-year-old unbeaten record held by the Kingdom after that draw in Tralee.

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“It is very easy to become obsessed with them,” Donnchadh Walsh admitted at the launch of the Allianz Football League back in January.

“Every night you go out for training you could just totally focus on them.

“All their skill and dangerous players we know well. (Stephen) Cluxton, we have him analysed to death at this stage and he’s still producing the goods.

“They’re always going to be at the back of our minds, Dublin, 100 per cent, and they have been since we lost the semi-final to them last year.”

Killian Young Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Killian Young, Shane Enright remain doubtful ahead of Sunday’s game, which will rob Kerry of their two best man markers in defence.

James O’Donoghue is thought to be 50/50, while Colm Cooper has called time on his legendary inter-county career.

Gavin brought on three former Footballers of the Year in Bernard Brogan, Jack McCaffrey and Michael Darragh Macauley off the bench against Monaghan, while All-Stars Diarmuid Connolly and Cian O’Sullivan were also summoned.

Brogan, O’Sullivan and McCaffrey look best placed to return to Dublin’s starting 15.

  • Dublin v Kerry, Allianz Football Division 1 final, 4pm, Croke Park

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