Lonesharkoy previews the All Ireland Senior Football Final between Kerry and Dublin and he is backing the Kingdom to win their second Sam Maguire on the spin.
Kerry vs Dublin, All Ireland SFC Final
Just when we thought we had figured out the two protagonists in this one, Eamon Fitzmaurice went and threw a cat among the pigeons by making four changes to his starting fifteen, without doubt the largest shake up of a team between All Ireland semi-final and final in living memory.
Since named teams tend to mean a little bit more in the Kingdom, it’s worth reading into the changes to examine quite why the Finuge man chose to make such dramatic alterations. Paul Geaney’s deployment in place of Kieran Donaghy could easily be attributed to form, but it also could suggest that Kerry might not choose to press up on kickouts, and that they instead are looking for a bit more mobility as they chase Dublin down the field. Certainly we’re unlikely to see Cooper, Geaney and O’Donoghue working together in the inside forward line, with Geaney the most obvious candidate to stick close to goal while O’Donoghue forages in the corners and Cooper aims to take possession further out the field. Either way, it’s a change, and it will force Dublin to play cautiously in the opening minutes as they try to establish their opponents’ strategy – which we will touch upon later.
The introduction of Aidan O’Mahony and Fionn Fitzgerald into the full back line is even more interesting, since Marc Ó’Sé was widely acknowledged to be the obvious candidate to pick up Bernard Brogan this Sunday.
After a few quieter seasons, Brogan has been the unquestioned leader of the Dublin attack this year, both in terms of scoring and as the fulcrum of their offensive play. An incredible number of Dublin goals have involved runs along the end line followed by a lateral pass setting up a tap in finish, and it’s a rare move where Brogan isn’t playing the role of either the provider or the finisher. Ó’Sé would have been the obvious candidate to shadow him; however the introduction of Fitzgerald may point at a tactic of staying with Brogan’s hard runs. Either way, Dublin needs a big contribution from the Oliver Plunketts' player.
Paddy Andrews may have hit a purple patch of form in the replay against Mayo, but in the main, this is a Dublin forward line with a few misfiring weapons, and only Brogan and Ciarán Kilkenny truly on song.
Diarmuid Connolly is surely a disastrous 1/5 shot to win an All Star after his trials and tribulations against Mayo, while Paul Flynn is also operating well below his best. Dean Rock will do very well to hold his starting berth after failing to contribute in either semi-final and even if he does start, he may not finish – which will also feed into a later bet.
All the way back in May, we tipped up Kerry as the best value to win the All Ireland and frankly, nothing has changed to steer us off that path. The list of heavy hitters on their bench – Sheehan, Walsh, O’Sullivan, Keane, Ó’Sé, Galvin – is nothing short of outstanding, while on the field, their superiority in the middle third is pronounced. Michael Darragh MacAuley will be one player who will have benefited immensely from getting in an extra game, but it’s still hard to see how he can break even with either Anthony Maher or David Moran in the air. Not unlike Ciarán Kilkenny’s debut season, Bryan Fenton has hit something of a wall after looking like a potential All Star in Leinster competition, while Cian O’Sullivan’s possible absence may see Dublin attempt to offer a shade more cover to their defensive anchors. With little to separate the sides in terms of ability, Kerry’s greater bench and their proven ability to deliver on whatever game plan Eamon Fitzmaurice assigns, gives them a narrow edge.
In terms of smaller markets, the point scorer one is fascinating, on two levels. For the first point, we’re going to presume that Dublin will make sure not to fall into the trap that Donegal did last year - that of conceding an early goal that changed the tie. They will drop off and get their marking roles established, which will in turn encourage Kerry to take their chances from long range – enter Johnny Buckley as a good option at 16/1.
For last point scorer, we’re going to presume that the chances of Dean Rock being on the field in the closing minutes are less than 50/50, while there’s also a good chance that if a free is awarded, the team that gets it will look to kill a lot of time – and there’s no better way of doing that than summoning the farthest player possible to take the kick.
Stephen Cluxton might have had a very poor year so far by his own standards, but there are plenty of situations where he could still end up taking a long distance free in the closing minutes. At 25/1 with Boylesports, he’s worth a small investment in this market.
2 points win Kerry to beat Dublin at 5/4 with Paddy Power
0.5 points win Johnny Buckley to score the 1st point of the game at 16/1 with Paddy Power
0.5 points win Stephen Cluxton to score the last point of the game at 25/1 with Boylesports