Dublin (-4) – Evens
Two weeks ago, Dublin beating Kerry by more than six points seemed fanciful. The sheer weight of expectation and Kerry’s promising forwards made it very unlikely that the Dubs would romp to victory.
However, that’s exactly what would have happened had Johnny Cooper not gotten himself sent off.
Dublin were second best for large parts of the first half, but still led by five thanks to clinical finishing and superior game management.
It is not outrageous to think that they would have kicked on in the second half had they not been reduced to 14.
Furthermore, the praise heaped on Kerry for coming back into the drawn game is questionable.
The Kingdom played against 14 men for over 40 minutes and still retreated inside their own half when the game was in the balance. Had they been brave enough to twist the knife, you would not be reading this as there would be no replay.
Dublin got out of jail two weeks ago, have more areas to improve on than Kerry and will seize this second chance.
Over 40.5 points – 5/6
While the drawn final produced a slightly lower points total than 40.5, it can be accepted that Dublin would have scored a considerable amount more if they hadn’t had a man sent off.
Kerry were also inexcusably wayward, particularly in their pursuit of goals. At least one of Paul Geaney’s two excellent chances needed to raise a green flag, while Paul Murphy’s goalbound effort was also amazingly touched onto the crossbar by Stephen Cluxton.
Kerry cannot afford to be so off-colour in front of goal again if they are to have any hope of beating a Dublin team with a full complement. Michael Murphy’s statement that 2-20 is required to beat the Dubs might ring true come 8pm on Saturday.
Dublin, meanwhile, will not be allowed to be so off form again by Jim Gavin and with 15 men on the pitch, they should find space that bit easier to come by.
Paul Mannion: RTE Man of the Match – 9/1
By his exceptionally high standards, Mannion had a very poor game in the drawn final. Yet, after 15 minutes, it would have been mad to suggest such a thing as the Kilmacud Crokes man had hit two of Dublin’s four opening points.
He faded badly as the game went on, however, and was well marshalled by Tadgh Morley thereafter.
Mannion resorted to taking pot shots that, to his credit, he has landed more often than not this summer. But, because of the pressure being applied to him by Morley or that of the occasion, he was uncharacteristically wayward in his execution.
He wasn’t the only Dublin forward to have an off day and was ultimately bailed out by Dean Rock and Jack McCaffrey, but we do not expect him to be so quiet again.
After the disappointment of being sent off against Louth in the opening round of the Leinster championship, Mannion bounced back by shooting the lights out against Kildare – hitting seven points from play.
He has been Dublin’s talisman up front along with Con O’Callaghan and will be hungry to prove that the drawn final’s performance was just a blip.
Only one Dublin forward has been named Man of the match in an All-Ireland final since 2011. That was Bernard Brogan, who scored 2-03 against Mayo in 2013. It’s time that that record improved.
* All odds correct at time of posting.