The All-Ireland Football Final will take place on Sunday 1 September, and is the ultimate final between the two most successful sides in Gaelic Football history, Kerry and Dublin.
It is the most anticipated game of the GAA calendar year and the ‘Sam Maguire’ is the most coveted prize in the sport. 82,000 will be packed into Croke Park, thousands more will fill the Dublin streets and many more will tune in on TV.
Dublin are chasing a record five All-Ireland titles in a row, while Kerry aim to break Dublin’s dominance and record their first All-Ireland since 2014, their 37th overall.
Finalists: Kerry v Dublin
Date: 1 September 2019
Venue: Croke Park
Throw in: 3.30pm
TV Channel/Live Stream: RTE 2/Sky Sports Arena
Kerry and Dublin is the traditional rivalry of Gaelic Football and this will be the third Kerry-Dublin final this decade.
Dublin emerged as one-point winners in 2011 thanks to a last minute score from goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton. Kerry had led by four points with eight minutes to go.
In 2015, Dublin won the first of their current four consecutive titles. Kerry were the All-Ireland holders, but were drowned in a Dublin tide that has not yet stopped.
Dublin have not lost a Championship game since their defeat to Donegal in the 2014 Semi-Final, while Kerry reached only the last four in 2016 and 2017, before failing to make it out of the inaugural Super 8s series in 2018, the Quarter-FInal stage.
The teams have faced each other 29 times in Championship football. Kerry lead the way with 17 victories, compared to Dublin’s 10. However, momentum is with Dublin who have won the last four Championship meetings.
Both sides have remained unbeaten on their path to the All-Ireland Final. Dublin lifted the Leinster title with an average margin of victory of 19 points. Kerry laboured past Clare and Cork to win Munster.
Dublin reached the Semi-Final after convincing victories over Cork and Roscommon, before defeating Tyrone in Omagh. Kerry blitzed Mayo, before a draw with Donegal and a defeat of Meath secured their Semi-Final berth.
In the last four, Kerry defeated Tyrone 1-18 to 0-18, with Stephen O’Brien’s goal decisive. While Mayo matched and even bettered Dublin in the first half of their tie, a terrifying second half performance from Dublin saw the holders win 3-14 to 1-10.
The big talking point will be Dublin’s kickouts and how Kerry can manage this. Stephen Cluxton has revolutionized the game, and is Dublin’s most important player as all attacks start with him. How Kerry counter this will be crucial.
Dublin are strong favourites to win with all major bookmakers. Paddy Power have Dublin at 1/5. Kerry come in as underdogs at 5/1, while a draw stands at 14/1. Ladbrokes have Dublin as 1/4 favourites, with Kerry at 9/2. Both Bet365 and SkyBet have Dublin as favourites for the tie at 2/9.
For Dublin, the main talking point is whether or not Diarmuid Connolly will see any game time. Argued by many as the best player of his generation, he had been almost two years out before returning to face Tyrone. Expect a roar from the Dublin crowd if this man plays.
It is hard to find a weakness in this Dublin team, with strength in depth in every position. James McCarthy directs from half-back while Jack McCaffrey provides a constant threat in the wings. With Brian Fenton, Dublin have the best midfielder in the game, while Con O’Callaghan is in the form of his life from full-forward.
Kerry will be able to call on the services of key man Stephen O’Brien after his suspension for three black cards was overturned.
Tom O’Sullivan has kept all of the men he has marked scoreloss. David Moran is a giant in the middle of the park, while Sean O’Shea conducts the orchestra from half-forward. With David Clifford arguably the country’s best young player, Kerry have a constant scoring outlet.
Kerry have been a strong force under Peter Keane. ‘The Kingdom’ will believe in their chance of success despite what the odds will say. They have some of the best talent in Ireland and will certainly push Dublin all the way.
But they won’t have enough. They are running into the brick wall that is Dublin football. Jim Gavin’s men remain unbeaten in 35 Championship games, and have won the last 22.
Dublin have shown they can adapt to any challenge they are presented with and have an impressive reserve of substitutes who would start in any other team and will reignite the Dublin team during periods of Kerry control.
While Kerry will keep up with the Dubs for a substantial period, Dublin will pull away and will leave Croke Park on Sunday as history-makers with Five-In-A-Row All-Ireland titles.