Watching Kerry people over the last 3 weeks has been a fascinating exercise. The modern age has been great for the sports fan. There are now a plethora of different platforms to consume GAA content on. Podcasts, blogs, youtube channels not to mention the more traditional avenues.
The main take-away from everything I have watched regarding this year’s All-Ireland between Dublin and Kerry is that Kerry absolutely hate being underdogs. It is an admirable trait in many ways I guess. Every time I hear a former Kerry footballer talk about this match, it is obvious that they hate admitting this Dublin team are Favorites. They visibly bristle. While most of the rest of the country love to glide into a match under the radar as an underdog – Kerry people hate it.
Why? – Well it’s simple. They are the best of all time. Top of the pops in the league table of numbers of All Ireland’s won. Frankly it is not in their DNA to look up. The default is to look down on the rest of us, like a benign dictator. Even this Dublin team.
The drawn All Ireland was an entertaining game. It’s seems that because it was Kerry and Dublin it is being viewed as some kind of classic. It wasn’t. The sending off was the biggest influencer on the result. All other details and trends from the game pale in comparison.
In the aftermath of the result I have noticed something which I think is related to the fact that Kerry loathe being underdogs. Kerry people are talking up the draw. Talking up how well Kerry played while talking down how well Dublin played. Tomas O’Se has an interesting piece in today’s Independent, amongst other things he speaks about some of the things Dublin will be worried about and that Jim Gavin is facing selection calls that will affect his legacy.
I am fan of O’Se’s analysis generally but this a load of old nonsense. The main thing Dublin need to do is keep 15 men on the field. Like a lot of Kerry people he gives a begrudging nod to Dublin when he finally calls who he thinks will win. But the entire thrust of discussion is about how much Dublin will be worried about this Kerry team and how they managed to stop Dublin playing the last day.
As far as I can see, Kerry played with uninhibited freedom for 15 minutes in the drawn game. They fluffed a penalty early on and a couple of other goal chances. David Clifford dropped a ball into the goalies hands in the pressure cauldron of the last 10 minutes of a championship final.
If the people wearing the Green and Gold the last day were wearing Green and Red commentators everywhere would be calling them chokers. When you hit the front with 7 minutes of normal time remaining, a man up, and subsequently have to rely on a missed Dean Rock point at the end, to get a draw, you have a lot to be worried about.
Kerry are not Mayo though. I would expect them to improve in today’s replay. Make no mistake, they will need to for this game to remain competitive to the end. Jim Gavin has tweaked his line up for the replay and Bernard Brogan has been drafted into the match day squad. It all points to a Dublin team approaching today with all gun’s blazing.
With 15 Dubliners on the pitch for 75 minutes, if Kerry beat the handicap I will be surprised.