National Football League Division One Preview – Saturday, 18th March Kerry vs Dublin (7pm Austin Stack Park)

This hype normally reserved for Croke Park showdowns but there’s something different this time.  It feels like the match both teams must win.  The talk is the streak!  The unbeaten record!  On their way to amassing 10 trophies between 1929 and 1932, Kerry went 34 games without loss.  They weren’t the traditional football super power yet!

Dublin are on 33 following their annihilation of Mayo and warded off threats from Donegal and Tyrone.  In Killarney 24 months ago, they last suffered defeat.  And Tralee was sold out a month ago with 12,000 souls to see this under lights.

But quite simply, Kerry need to win.  After defeats to Mayo and Monaghan, they must be victorious to stand any chance of making the league final.  Aidan O’Mahony and Marc O Se have retired; The Gooch is on club duty; and Kieran Donaghy is becoming a Basketball international.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice has a strong deck with Shane Enright, Killian Young, Tadhg Morley and Peter Crowley in defence with David Moran, Donnacha Walsh, Paul Geaney, Barry John Keane and James O’Donoghue creating attacks.  And Bryan Sheehan is back from suspension.

Dublin’s big names are back with Diarmuid Connolly and Bernard Brogan potentially involved.  Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons, John Small, Eric Lowndes, David Byrne, Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley, Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock are others available to Jim Gavin.

Kerry are 5/4 with Dublin 4/5 and the draw 12/1.  Kerry beat Dublin four times during their run 85 years ago.  Dublin have bettered the Kingdom four times since that 2015 reversal in Killarney.  The stage is set for the green and gold but their poor home form doesn’t back up those claims.

Verdict: Dublin


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