GAA All-Ireland Final preview: Dublin to win war for the ages

The question on everybody's lips, what is it about Dublin versus Kerry?

So goes one of the most famous pre-All Ireland Final promos of them all, marking the storied history of these two Gaelic football powerhouses.

They have hoisted Sam Maguire 68 times between them (Kerry 38, Dublin 30), a remarkable stat given that Galway on nine are the closest to them.
Whenever they meet, it is a big occasion, but there is something altogether different about Dublin versus Kerry when Sam Maguire awaits the victors atop the steps in the Hogan Stand.

This is the dream finale to a season that has quite often bubbled underneath the surface.

The new format and condensed season isn't yet for everyone but here stand the two best teams in the land, ready for the final dance. What is it about Dublin versus Kerry? A Sunday to be savoured inside Croke Park.

Selection: Dublin to win @ 23/20

Dublin vs. Kerry, All-Ireland Senior Football Final, Croke Park, Sunday 30th July, 3.30pm - Live on RTE/BBC

Shadow boxing is all done

The condensed Championship format brings us to this point, the second All Ireland Final of the summer before the final day of July. September's staples are now positioned in high summer.
No matter how the Championship is played, the very existence of the provincial championships, allied to the strength of Kerry and Dublin in any scenario, will ensure it is skewed somewhat towards these counties.
The Leinster and Munster preambles failed to bring Dublin or Kerry out of second gear. Or, rather, such is their superiority, they negotiated those early skirmishes in second gear, all the while building towards this end destination.
The would-be challengers that were Mayo and Armagh, mainly, faltered along the backroads and found that when they hit the motorway, their cruising speed wasn't enough to stick with the refined racers of Kerry and Dublin.
The semi-finals saw both these teams stutter, to a point, as first Monaghan and then Derry threatened major upsets. Ultimately, our finalists had the gear-change needed when the game was in the melting pot to go and secure it.

Game to be won on fine margins

There's precious little reason for either camp to be over-confident heading to Croke Park on Sunday and the reality is that this should be a close and tense battle that is only decided when the finishing line is in sight. It sets up as a cracker for the neutral.

In David Clifford, Kerry possess the ultimate attacking weapon, a master of his craft.

He has shown at times in the knockout stages the sheer brilliance at his feet. But is Dublin's strength going to lie in the knowledge their overall forward line is stronger in the sum of its parts that Kerry's orchestrator-in-chief?
Dublin won't keep Clifford quiet, but they may be able to limit him to the sort of damage they can counteract. Dublin's front three are a stronger unit overall with Cormac Costello, Colm Basquel and Con O'Callaghan.
Brian Fenton and James McCarthy are both playing brilliantly in the engine room and they will give Kerry duo Diarmuid O'Connor and Jack Barry the ultimate road-test now.
Kingdom boss Jack O'Connor suggested this week he expects a 'seriously intense final, especially at midfield'. With 14 All Irelands won between them; the Dublin pair may have the edge.
The impact of the benches will be key, too, one imagines. Stephen O'Brien and Killian Spillane are Kerry's main options there but Dublin's bench is likely to contain serial winner and potential game-changer Ciaran Kilkenny. That's quite the luxury for Dessie Farrell to have.
For Kerry, they need David Clifford to inspire, as he tends to, but the likes of Seanie O'Shea and Paudie Clifford must also shine on the big stage for the full 70 minutes or Dublin will take advantage.

Old stagers to prevail one more time

Dublin's press will load the pressure on a Kerry team that might not have got here had Derry been clinical with the goal chances they got in the semi-final.

It's improbable that the Dubs will replicate that sort of wastefulness when the killer moments arrive.
Stephen Cluxton's return in goal was much talked about. He may be 41 but the greatest goalkeeper the game has ever witnessed is still razor sharp. His distribution is key and will help secure the Dubs the possession they crave.
There's very little to separate these sides but Dublin's superior depth and experience makes it tough to see them as underdogs.
For that reason, they are the selection at odds-against to dethrone the champions as the likes of Cluxton and McCarthy set their eyes on an unmatched ninth All Ireland winners' medal.

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