Thursday 19 September 2019

Kingdom vows to put a spanner in Dubs' bid for five in a row

Cliodhna Hayes, Alan O’Sullivan and Rachel Lynch are all set to see Kerry take on Dublin. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Cliodhna Hayes, Alan O’Sullivan and Rachel Lynch are all set to see Kerry take on Dublin. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Bernard ‘Pop’ Lynch with wife Noreen, will be wearing his signed Mick O’Connell shirt. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Ralph Riegel

In Kerry, fans are preparing for a Kingdom-sized spanner to be thrown into the well-oiled engine room of Dublin's 'drive for five'.

From Ballinskelligs to Ballyheigue, Kerry fans are convinced it is their Gaelic football destiny to put manners on the Dubs and achieve sweet revenge for 1982 when their own dreams of an historic five-in-a-row ended in bitter tears.

Bernard 'Pop' Lynch ranks as one of Kerry's most ardent fans.

"My first All-Ireland final was in 1982, the year of Offaly and the Séamus Darby goal," he said.

"So I know well that all the pressure is on the Dubs with this 'drive for five'. There is absolutely no pressure on Kerry at all.

"We've a good young team and, if they all play to their potential, they'll give Dublin all they can handle."

But Mr Lynch admitted Kerry have three priorities of their own on Sunday.

"Every single one of the Kerry starting 15 has to play to their maximum potential. Kerry can't afford even a single one to be below par.

"Kerry has to try and control Stephen Cluxton's kick outs because he is an artist in his own right. And they have to stop Dublin scoring any goals in the first half."

Bernard and a few fellow fans have commissioned two special flags for Sunday.

The first carries the proud message: 'We Believe - Ciarraí Abú'.

The second flag, which will only be unfurled at 5pm on Sunday if Kerry win their 38th title, carries a special message for Dublin fans: 'Tally-Ho to the Five-in-a-Row'.

All-Ireland fever has only reached boiling point over the past few days in Kerry.

Tralee street trader Derek Ward said the build-up to the Dublin showdown began with the end of the Rose of Tralee festival.

"It was quiet enough up until then. There's been a bit of edge to the Dublin-Kerry thing since then," he said.

Not surprisingly the best selling items were green-and-gold head bands and 192-K-Sam mini-licence plates.

Dáithí Ó Sé's decision to crack a televised joke using a Dublin flag delighted Kingdom locals, but Dublin fans weren't overly amused.

Delicatessen operator Alan O'Sullivan said what matters is who laughs last.

"It's all a bit of banter but all that matters is who is still laughing at 5pm on Sunday," he said.

Mr O'Sullivan, who attended his first final in 1997, will be at the match alongside most of his staff.

Schoolchildren across the Kingdom were also getting into the All-Ireland fervour.

At the Holy Family National School in Tralee, a giant 'Up Kerry' design had been lovingly cut into the school lawn.

There's a reason Kerry fans proudly consider Croke Park their second home.

Sunday will, incredibly, be their 60th appearance in an All-Ireland football final since the competition began in 1887.

Not surprisingly, Dublin are their nearest rivals with Sunday ranking as their 42nd final appearance.

Kerry have been crowned football champions a record 37 times.

While they agonisingly missed out on a five-in-a-row in 1982 after being beaten by a single point by Offaly, Kerry have clinched a four-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles on two separate occasions.

As if that wasn't enough, the Kingdom has also won two different hat-tricks of All-Ireland crowns.

Kerry fans are also aware their first appearance in a final in 1893 resulted in a 1-4 to 0-3 defeat to Dublin who became the first county to defend a title.

Irish Independent

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