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kerry need a new hero


(Croke Park, Tonight, 7.0 Live Setanta Ireland)

IF there has, in fact, been a ban on the word 'retaining' or the phrase 'back-to-back' within the Dublin camp this year, surely the rest of the country should comply with a prohibition on the wanton use of the word 'hunger' in sizing up the Dubs from a vantage point of anywhere outside the tent.

Because All-Ireland wins are, apparently, the offspring of malnutrition.

You're the hungriest team in town? Here's Sam Maguire.

In turn, the endless banquets on which the champions feast post All-Ireland causes complete satiation. And, with the honorable exception of Kerry in 2007, each annual barren harvests endured by every All-Ireland champions since 1991 has been caused by their lack of appetite.

What might just be different in Dublin this year, however, is the hunger of those who didn't quite make the team last year and in truth, there has never been such a depth of talent in the capital.

Just as well too, because with all these lasting injuries (Bernard Brogan, James McCarthy, Dean Rock, Paddy Andrews, Eoghan O'Gara) club involvement (Ger Brennan, Diarmuid Connolly) and suspension (Paul Flynn) Jim Gavin needs as many talented footballers with a hankering for some serious gametime as he can.

If Dublin are fattened then, Kerry are positively famished.

September will mark five years since they last won an All-Ireland, a stretch of emptiness not seen in the Kingdom since their 1997 triumph.

Speaking about the current bunch's general wellbeing in a conversation with the Herald this week, former Kingdom star Dara Ó Cinnéide pointed out that when you boiled Eamonn Fitzmaurice's immediate needs down to specifics, it was in midfield that his county needed some form of permanency to kick on in 2014.

"No one has really stood up and replaced Dara Ó Sé," he reckoned. "The man is gone four years at this stage and he has very big boots to fill but it's time now for one of the players to step in and do it."

"I've heard people saying Anthony Maher is the one and he has shown up but I haven't really seen that yet."

Certainly, Maher was Ó Sé's envisioned replacement almost before the Gaeltacht man retired but he has suffered throughs and lulls in form during a period of reconstruction in the Kingdom.

David Moran is another who has bared the burden of great expectation but a tale as woeful as 'An Béal Bocht' with injury has curtailed his involved and stalled his development.

Both start tonight and given that Johnny Buckley will be absent from the Kerry colours so long as Dr Crokes as alive in the AIB club Championship, now is an ideal time to begin forging a productive and thus lasting partnership.

According to Ó Cinnéide, the ageing legs of the Kerry defence is no longer a major well of angst for his former team mate, Fitzmaurice, in so far as both Fionn Fitzgerald and Peter Crowley have "proven themselves to be able to cut it at the top, top level".

And up front, Fitzmaurice's main worry is whether his great forwards find form, rather than whether they exits at all.

Colm Cooper won't play in the League which, given his enlongated seasons these past bountiful years with Dr Crokes, is probably wise.

Declan O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy are also on extended leaves of absence which, given their recent history of merriment with the Dublin full-back line, is surely to the detriment of both a Kerry result tonight and, in truth, the entertainment value for all who attend.

Really, the only interest in the Kerry attack that starts tonight is whether Donnchadh Walsh and James O'Donoghue can maintain and expand on the form they located last year, none moreso than in that breathless All-Ireland semi-final everyone's been talking about ever since.

After that, we can see whether Paul Galvin plays any part in defence but in truth, there is no war in football so phony as taking up arms against Kerry on the first day in February.

Against that, Dublin's motivation - besides the obvious quest to establish prominence by many fringe-ers in Gavin's selection psyche - might just be to extend their run of glory (five wins in the last six matches) against a team they once couldn't buy any class of victory against for love nor money.

That should be sufficient.

ODDS: Dublin 2/5, Draw15/2/ Kerry 5/2