05/04/2017

Gooch may be gone but age old rivalry still burns bright

Old foes Dublin and Kerry unexpectedly lock horns again in the Allianz League Final next Sunday at 4pm for another feast of Gaelic football at Croke Park.

The midweek retirement of GAA legend, Colm Cooper, is a huge landmark but what a treat lies ahead for the Jones Road faithful as the next Kerry generation will relish meeting their age-old rivals. 

Eamonn Fitzmaurice's young guns will have it all to do. Last weekend, Dublin dramatically came back from the dead against Monaghan, resurrecting their League hopes at the death despite being seven points down as the game entered its finale.

Their resilience shone again and goals from substitutes Bernard Brogan and Jack McCaffrey saw them through. They are a team full of character but standing in their way of further honours is a county they know inside out. 

Just weeks ago the two drew in Tralee on St. Patrick's weekend. Kerry's aim remains the same as on that date - to stop the Dubs from winning their fifth consecutive League title on their home turf.  

A massive attendance is expected at Jones Road for what should be the closest pitch to a Championship match that you will see. 

The Kingdom haven't tasted League success since 2009 and just cannot seem to get a grip on Dublin in recent years. But Fitzmaurice will realise that a win on Sunday could be significant - the last five times they Kerry have been League champions, they've subsequently done the double.

Meanwhile, Dublin march on, 36 games unbeaten, and in pursuit of even more greatness. Players like Brian Fenton, who made his full debut two years ago, haven't yet lost a game. It's just incredible. 

So, too, are the successive promotions achieved by Division 2 finalists, Kildare who meet Galway at HQ in the curtain-raiser (throw-in 2pm).

Cian O'Neill has dragged up a Kildare team down on its luck and bang out of confidence, plucking them up two tiers in just a short space of time. Players like Kevin Feely, Johnny Byrne and Paul Cribbin should light the stadium up.

But the return of injury-stricken Michael Meehan to the Galway line-up could well draw the biggest cheer of the day. Meehan, one of the most highly regarded footballers of the modern era, returned to the Galway team after a lengthy spell out of the game and to see him back at Croke Park this Sunday would be one of the sights of 2017. 

Both teams love to attack. Two games not to be missed!