Thursday 29 September 2016

Kingdom underdogs need to bite back

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

Pat Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile

Changed times in the Dublin-Kerry story.

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When Pat Gilroy's 'startled earwigs' lost to Kerry by 17 points in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final, Dublin were very much the underdogs in the relationship.

Dublin hadn't beaten Kerry in a really big game since the 1987 League final, and their previous Championship win was in the 1977 All-Ireland semi-final.

Since then, the opposite has been the case. In fact, when the teams line up for their latest joust on Sunday, Kerry will be seeking only their third win over the Dubs since the start of 2010. It's 8-2 to Dublin in that period.

Now, here's an interesting thing about the counties' relationship with the League and its possible impact on the Championship: Kerry last won the League title in 2009 and are now in their first final since then. Meanwhile, Dublin have been in four finals, winning the last three and losing to Cork in 2011.

They narrowly missed the 2010 final too, losing out to Cork on the head-to-head-rule after finishing joint second.

Dublin rarely made much of an impression in the League over many years, prior to the change of emphasis under Gilroy in his second season (2010), which began with a win over Kerry in Killarney.

It has intensified under Jim Gavin, who is hoping to lead Dublin to a fourth successive title on Sunday. Plus, of course, they won the All-Ireland-League double in 2013 and last year.

Kerry combined League-Championship success in 2004, '06 and '09 so yes, Sunday's game will tell you more than either side wants to admit about their Championship prospects.

Irish Independent

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