Thursday 26 April 2018

Croker clash hits fever pitch

Fans turn to black market as Dubs v Kerry the hottest ticket in town

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

WITH the GAA putting up the 'full house' signs early in the week, demand for tickets for tomorrow's Dublin-Kerry All-Ireland football semi-final clash in Croke Park has led to feverish activity on the black market.

Stand tickets with a face value of €40 were being offered for up to €200 on websites as fans scrambled to secure access to one of the most eagerly awaited games of the year.

With Mayo already through to the final, there's massive interest in the battle to decide who joins them as the two most successful counties in championship history go head-to-head in what will be the first sell-out crowd of the season at HQ.

Both Dublin and Kerry arrive in Croke Park as provincial champions, with Jim Gavin's men odds-on favourites to maintain their pursuit of an Allianz League/All-Ireland double, a feat last achieved by the Blues in 1976.

Dublin have lost just one of 13 league and championship games this year, which accounts for their 1/2 favouritism tomorrow.

They swept to success in the Leinster championship, beating Westmeath, Kildare and Meath before eliminating Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Kerry find themselves in the unusual position of being 5/1 outsiders of three for the All-Ireland title, despite their proven record in Croke Park.

However, their second-half fade-out against Cork in the Munster final, which left them hanging on in the closing minutes, followed by an unconvincing performance against Cavan in the All-Ireland quarter-final, have raised doubts about their ability to counteract Dublin.

The absence of Killian Young through injury is a further blow to Kerry, who lost to Dublin by 11 points in a league tie in Killarney last February. Dublin also beat them in the 2011 All-Ireland final.

However, Kerry will be encouraged by the 2009 quarter-final, where they were outsiders against Dublin, only to turn in a brilliant performance which yielded a remarkable 17-point win.

Throw-in tomorrow is at 3.30 and the senior game will be preceded at 1.30 by the minor semi-final between Roscommon and Tyrone.

Meanwhile, Paddy Andrews has been recalled to the Dublin team for tomorrow's mouthwatering clash. The St Brigid's man, who hasn't started since the Leinster semi-final against Kildare, comes in at the expense of former All-Ireland-winning captain Bryan Cullen.

And his recall means that Dean Rock, who replaced Cullen after 40 minutes last time out, still hasn't started a game this summer despite his 'supersub' heroics. There was speculation that Rock, who has scored 0-2 in each of his four substitute appearances, would be the man to replace Cullen but Gavin has given the full-forward slot to Andrews and moved Diarmuid Connolly out to the wing in an otherwise unchanged team.

DUBLIN (SF v Kerry) – S Cluxton; K O'Brien, R O'Carroll, J Cooper; J McCarthy, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly; P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.

Irish Independent

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