It’s ‘Take Two’ for Blues

By Hayden Moore

AFTER playing out a nerve-wracking 1-16 to 1-16 draw in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, Dublin and Kerry will go to battle once again in the replay in Croke Park this Saturday.

Having been reduced to 14-men following the sending off of Jonny Cooper on 34-minutes and been put on the backfoot thanks to a Killian Spillane goal and late point, Dublin responded in most composed fashion.

Niall Scully Dublin 120919

Templeogue Synge Street’s Niall Scully will be hoping he can help Dublin to record fifth successive All-Ireland Senior Football Championship crown when they meet old rivals Kerry in Saturday’s replay in Croke Park.

An upset on the cards, Jim Gavin’s side demonstrated great mental strength to stay in the game and kick a late equaliser on 74-minutes to bring it to a replay.

But this is a road that Gavin’s Blues have been down before, having competed in an All-Ireland replay in 2016 against Mayo and that day saw the Clondalkin man alter his side to try catch the opposition by surprise.

If history is anything to go by then fans in Croke Park should expect a few changes to the starting line-up as Gavin brought in three non-starters from the drawn final into the replay three years ago.

Ballyboden’s Michael Darragh Macauley, who has impressed all campaign was one of the players who made way for the replay on that occasion.

With the strength of Philly McMahon and Cian O’Sullivan left on the bench in this year’s showpiece, a useful strategical swap for the Boys in Blue could be to push James McCarthy into midfield to beat Kerry’s Moran in the aerial duels – a role he has played before.

With no room for Bernard Brogan or Templeogue Synge Street’s Eoghan O’Gara on the previous match-day squad, they will have been scrapping for a place in training ahead of this Saturday.

The match-ups between the sides are of most interesting coming into the final replay with both teams having made good and bad decisions the last day.

A key point of contention that Peter Keane will be looking at is how to stop Jack McCaffrey kicking 1-3 from play again after the placement of Gavin White on him as a man-marker back-fired.

That said, Keane did get several other match-ups spot-on as Adrian Spillane seemingly nullified Brian Fenton and David Clifford gave both Jonny Cooper and David Byrne a torrid time in front of goal.

What seemed like an unstoppable and interchangeable front-six for Dublin failed to make much of an impact aside from Dean Rock, with Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan tallying 0-3 between them.

Fifteen players made their very first appearance in an All-Ireland Final for Kerry on September 1 and showed their mettle against the four-in-a-row Dubs.

With both sides getting the opportunity to do it all again and right the wrongs on the biggest stage, fans are sure to be in for a treat as Kerry try stop Dublin from lifting the Sam Maguire for a record fifth time in-a-row.

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