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Cats had hunger Dublin will need

ANOTHER championship season comes to a pulsating conclusion, and it's an emphatic case of the Empire strikes back. Everyone must bend the knee in subjugation. Our Empire begins with a 'K' and ends in a 'Y' ...

At which point, some of you Dubs are probably shaking heads in shock and confusion, bordering on horror. "Sure the All-Ireland hasn't even happened yet ... or did we sleep through it?" The answer, you'll be relieved to hear, is no -- not yet!

Meanwhile, though, Cody's Empire has struck back with a vengeance and, as we write, Stag City is in full party mode. The Cats are far too busy celebrating -- not to mention indifferent -- to bother with such philosophical musings, but this column has got to wondering what positives (if any) the Dublin footballers can glean from Kilkenny's latest September coronation.

Yes, we fully appreciate that what happened on September 4 has zero relevance to what will transpire at the same venue on September 18. But ... what the heck, there's a vacuum to fill, not to mention a column, so here goes.


What last Sunday reaffirmed is that, most other things being relatively equal, hunger is indeed the best sauce on All-Ireland final day.

Both protagonists seemed relatively well matched: one legendary team allegedly with its best days behind it, versus a potentially great team supposedly on the way up. They had met in the previous two All-Irelands and shared the booty.

Which brings us back to hunger. Both finalists seemed to have all the motivation you could ask for. For Kilkenny, it was a case of avenging last September while reminding all the sceptics that -- yes indeed -- here is the greatest hurling team ever.

For Tipp, there was the once-in-a-lifetime chance to beat Kilkenny in successive All-Ireland finals while becoming the county's first two-in-a-row champions since the mid-60s.

But only one team brought a truly ravenous appetite to the table. Of course it's being simplistic to say this was the only difference, because Kilkenny also won the tactical battle hands down, while their skill levels stood up better to the cauldron-like conditions.


But, at a fundamental level, Kilkenny wanted it more. They were not going to be beaten by the same deadly enemy two years running. End of.

So, what has all this got to do with Dublin? Good question. If only we had the answer.

Dublin should be every bit as hungry as Kilkenny were last Sunday. Clearly, the capital craves success having 16 years in the All-Ireland wilderness.

But what will really drive on Pat Gilroy's team (the older heads especially) is the prospect of finally bagging that elusive Celtic Cross after so much cumulative August agony.

The great imponderable is this, however: who is to say Kerry won't be as voracious as Kilkenny? In football, too, long-time pretenders don't have the sole copyright on hunger: Jack O'Connor's men will scarcely lack for motivation.

True, certain veteran Kerry defenders are meant to be on their last legs -- just like some battle-weary Kilkenny defenders until 48 hours ago.

Dublin have one pre-match advantage shared by Kilkenny: they are marginal underdogs with the bookies, and possibly the experts too.

That can be a useful motivational tool but Dublin will go into battle with their eyes wide open, fully realising that you should never write off the GAA equivalent of the Germans -- a heavyweight rival beginning with 'K' and ending in 'Y'.