GAA All-Ireland Football Championship Final (Sunday 1st of September)

Con O'Callaghan was in scintillating form against Mayo in the semi-final and can play a starring role again this Sunday.

Éanna Atkinson looks forward to this weekend’s GAA All-Ireland Football Championship Final

This Sunday the GAA Football season reaches its climax, with Dublin’s bid for an historic “5 in a row”.

Standing in the way are their old foes Kerry, who failed in an attempt to win “5 in a row” back in 1982 when losing by a single  point in the final to Offaly. The Kingdom will be desperate to prevent the Dubs from creating history this weekend.

This year’s decider brings together the two most-successful counties in Gaelic Football. The Kingdom have 37 All-Ireland Titles to their name, while the Dubs, who of course have been gaining on their rivals in recent years, have won 28 All-Irelands.

The game throws in at 3:30pm in Croke Park and it will be shown live on RTÉ2 and Sky Sports Arena.

Check out all of Bar One Racing’s All-Ireland Football Final betting here

All-Ireland Football Final – Dublin v Kerry (Throw-in @ 3:30pm, live on RTÉ2, on 01/09):

Dublin have been in unstoppable form this summer and, remarkably, they have beaten the handicap in every Championship encounter.

The Dubs are hot favourites to complete the historic “5 in a row”, but like all Kerry teams, Peter Keane’s young stars won’t fear Dublin.

This contest serves up some fascinating battles all over the field. Like in every big game, both management teams will be hoping to curb the influence of the opposition’s key players.

Both of these teams have outstanding forward-lines, but I just think that Dublin’s defenders will be able to cope better than Kerry’s defenders.

Up front for the Dubs, Con O’Callaghan, Paul Mannion, Dean Rock and Ciaran Kilkenny will all need to be man-marked. The likes of Tadhg Morley, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Murphy could be tasked with picking up these prolific forwards.

O’Callaghan and Mannion have been Dublin’s two real danger-men in recent games. O’Callaghan scored two brilliant goals against Mayo and was a real threat the whole game.

The only player I can see picking up the Cuala powerhouse is the combative Tadhg Morley. Morley is the most suitable physically to pick up O’Callaghan, and he is a very sticky man-marker. However, even an excellent defender like Morley will have his hands full with O’Callaghan.

Paul Mannion, like O’Callaghan, is another “Footballer Of The Year” contender. Jason Foley is an option to pick Mannion up, but I think the Kilmacud Crokes star will have too much for the young defender. I can see Mannion having another excellent game on Sunday and he is my tip for “RTÉ Man Of The Match” @ 17/2.

Kerry, of course, have a host of top quality forwards of their own. David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Seán O’Shea and Stephen O’Brien are the obvious marksmen that the Dubs will have to keep a close eye on.

For me, Stephen O’Brien has been Kerry’s most consistent performer this season. His goal against Tyrone in the semi-final showed exactly what the Kenmare man is all about.

The likes of Johnny Cooper, Michael Fitzsimons and John Small are all certainties to be given man-marking jobs by Jim Gavin.

One player who made a real impression when he came on against Tyrone was Tommy Walsh, and if Peter Keane chooses to start the Kerins O’Rahilly’s club-man, it could throw a real spanner in the works for the Dubs. This is because Walsh is a better ball winner than any of the other Kerry forwards. He can win any type of ball kicked into him, and for this reason I think Peter Keane should put Walsh in from the start.

One of the big talking points in the build-up to this All-Ireland has been who Kerry will detail to mark the outstanding Brian Fenton in midfield. Fenton has scored an incredible 3-8 from play so far in this year’s Championship and his ability to win clean possession from Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs is a big part of Dublin’s game plan.

Jack Barry has done a good job marking Fenton in previous games, and in the league encounter which Kerry won in February, the Raheny man probably had his quietest game of the year. Jack Barry hasn’t been in the starting 15 for most of this year’s Championship, but he is tipped by many to start on Sunday to do a man-marking job on Fenton.

If Kerry are to cause a major shock this weekend, they will need a near-perfect performance. With the way Dublin play, I think Kerry will get goal chances and they will need to take all of them.

I also feel, though, that if it turns into a shootout, Dublin will have too much for Kerry, especially when they empty their bench in the last quarter of the game.

The Kingdom can stay in this game well into the second-half but, for me, putting Dublin -4 @ 8/13 into your weekend accumulators would be a smart addition.

In terms of a value bet, I like the look of Kerry Half-Time/ Dublin Full-Time @ 9/2. Kerry will know they need to start fast to try and stay with Dublin. If Dublin are behind at half-time, we all know that they won’t panic and you would have to fancy them to finish the stronger of the two teams.

Check out all of Bar One Racing’s Gaelic Football betting here

Verdict: Dublin -4 (Handicap Betting) @ 8/13

Value Bet: Half-Time/Full-Time – Kerry/Dublin @ 9/2

RTÉ Man Of The Match Prediction: Paul Mannion @ 17/2

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article