NO ASSUMPTIONS WILL BE MADE BUT KERRY HAVE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS


The rumblings around HQ and the capital have been understated since Dublin defeated Donegal almost three weeks ago.

On that evening Jim Gavin’s troop once again silenced critics and proved that, as an all round team, they have the smarts and indeed the skill and tactics to see off any offensive or defensive formation that’s put before them.

The Quarter final against the Tir Connaill men was the acid test required following a less than appealing Leinster Championship campaign, though through no fault of their own.

To many, Dublin are still only breaking in the timing belt and have yet to open up fully this year, something we may see this Sunday against the Kingdom.

For Kerry, their provincial campaign was a similar, underwhelming affair, seeing off Clare and Tipp with no stress, to once again meet Clare in their All Ireland Quarter Final.

The difference, which is quite clear, is Kerry go into Sunday’s clash not having a proper challenge in the lead up. Dublin will be to Kerry what Donegal were to Dublin, and to most this will be a last chance saloon for Eamon Fitzmaurice and some of the more senior players on the Kerry panel.

To lose to Dublin again would be unspeakable for the Munster Champions, but there’s an air of dominance yet again in the capital and they just appears to be peaking at the opportune time.

Dublin should start with the similar look that’s been used throughout the championship so far, but this is where the questions begin for Kerry.

With so much riding on this fixture, how will Eamonn Fitzmaurice actually set out his stall?

Kerry legend and RTÉ Pundit Pat Spillane was quite vocal recently on the Sunday Game about the complete unknown going into the weekend.

“We don’t know what’s the starting 15,” he said last Sunday.

“Who will be the midfield pairing? Will Paul Murphy play in the forwards? Will he go back to the backs?l

“Will they bring back Aidan O’Mahony or Marc Ó Sé?”

“I have never in my life seen so many question marks over a Kerry team, who have been undefeated in the championship, going into next Sunday’s game.”

There’s absolutely no doubt that Kerry will arrive in Drumcondra on Sunday with a plan, it’s just a case of what plan?

Win at any cost? Will the Kerry boss crowd his defence to stop what has become the most complete forward attack in the country?

Does anyone, purist or not, want to see the likes of Colm Cooper tracking back into his own half, just like he did in last year’s All Ireland Final? Or James O’Donoghue for that matter?

Will Kerry try a route one approach, avoid the middle third and target someone like a Donaghy deep in the area for a high ball to cause problems? And can Donaghy, or anyone else for that matter, survive in among the likes of McMahon, Cooper and Byrne not to mention a very attack minded half back formation. 

After a heavy defeat in this year’s League Final, Fitzmaurice admitted his focus was on the championship. Well we’re here now, and with one fence to jump before the home stretch all eyes will be on Croke Park this Sunday. For the winners, a date with Mayo in September for the grandest prize there is. 

A nation of football spectators will expect a classic, like a 2011 or a 2013. But will they get one? Or will this All Ireland Semi Final be one to be forgotten?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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