Preview: All Ireland SFC Final - Dublin v Kerry
Sunday September 1
All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, 3.30pm
By Cian O'Connell
So after months of toil a defining 70 minutes beckons at GAA headquarters when the two bluebloods collide.
Dublin versus Kerry always carries deep meaning and the upcoming encounter is no different. The stakes are piled seriously high with Sam Maguire the much coveted prize for the victor.
Subplots exist; Dublin are on the verge of collection a fifth All Ireland title on the spin. Talk of realising that feat has been kept to a minimum by Dublin's players and management. Dublin's focus has stayed firm throughout the summer; each and every hurdle has been cleared thus far.
Kerry know all about drives for five with 1982 remaining one of the most memorable September deciders for a plethora of reasons.
Will Kerry be the team to deny Dublin this weekend? Peter Keane's first campaign in charge has injected hope and optimism.
A raft of emerging footballers continue to develop briskly with Sean O'Shea and David Clifford scoring heavily.
Established figures such as Stephen O'Brien and Paul Geaney have also supplied when it counted too so Kerry will hit the Jones Road venue confident about causing a surprise.
At the penultimate stage Mayo were beginning to pose questions for Dublin, who found the answers during a dynamic 12 minute third quarter burst which yielded 2-6.
That was when the chief damage was done with Mayo's organised chaos in the first half long forgotten. Dublin cruised to victory with Brian Fenton's midfield majesty, Ciaran Kilkenny's subtlety, Paul Mannion's dash, and Con O'Callaghan's class evident.
There will be no shortage of forward quality on the Croke Park pitch this Sunday. It means the importance of being defensively safe and sound will be critical.
Fenton's enduring influence on this distinguished Dublin outfut is worthy of the utmost praise and respect. Kerry will have scrutinised every little detail in the build up.
It will lead to one of the most fascinating match-ups. Dublin have been down this road many times before. Perhaps that is the greatest strength of Gavin and his management team, a way is nearly always found.
During the past four All Ireland triumphs Dublin have endured anxious moments, especially against pumped up green and red warriors, but they have been ice cool in the closing stages.
Kerry's talent and tradition should count for something. Gifted footballers have been manufactured and integrated into the senior inter-county arena.
Keane demonstrated a willingness to make a few important calls introducing Tommy Walsh, Jack Sherwood, and Jonathan Lyne back into the fold.
Valuable lessons have been learned since January, but this was the ultimate test Kerry craved to sit.
Down south the past is loaded with silverware and legends, and the future appears bright, but the present is the only thing on the agenda now.
Who will Jason Foley mark? Can Tadhg Morley disturb gifted Dublin forwards? Where will Gavin White be stationed? What centrefield duo will Kerry field?
All will be revealed in the 30th Championship encounter involving Dublin and Kerry.
During the past decade Dublin have enjoyed a most successful and rewarding stint. Gavin built on the foundation established by Pat Gilroy.
These are the days Dublin planned and plotted so long for and the next assignment is packed with significance. The same as it ever was.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Jonny Cooper, Michael Fitzsimons; Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy, John Small; Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh MacAuley; Niall Scully, Con O'Callaghan, Brian Howard; Paul Mannion, Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny.
KERRY: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Brian O’Beaglaoich; David Moran, Adrian Spillane; Gavin White, Sean O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien; David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Killian Spillane.