Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dublin stalwarts facing axe as Jim Gavin finalises Drive for Five selection

Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Cian O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Dublin stalwarts Cian O'Sullivan and Philly McMahon look set to be the ones left most disappointed when Jim Gavin finalises his starting 15 for Sunday's date with destiny against Kerry.

O'Sullivan - along with captain Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy - has started each of the six previous All-Ireland final appearances this decade for the Dubs but is expected to lose out for the final leg of the drive for five.

The Kilmacud Crokes defender has been kept in reserve for their past three outings and looks set for another place on the bench, where he is likely to be joined by McMahon, another who has featured in each of their six Sam Maguire victories since 2011.

The return to fitness of David Byrne has seen McMahon struggle to nail down a starting berth this season, although the Ballymun Kickhams defender could be detailed to mark towering Kerry attacker Tommy Walsh if he is parachuted into the fray.

Whether to start the experienced Walsh or not is one of the few selection issues which Kerry boss Peter Keane has heading into the eagerly-awaited decider after Walsh's game-changing impact when introduced in their semi-final defeat of Tyrone.

Walsh rejoined the Kingdom fold this year after a long spell Down Under playing AFL and a series of injury problems, but former Kerry team-mate Darran O'Sullivan feels he would be best utilised off the bench.

"I'd be surprised if he was starting," O'Sullivan said. "I just think it would suit Kerry better to have his experience and potential impact coming off the bench. It would be harder to deal with Tommy coming on when it's a bit more of a free-for-all than starting."

Diarmuid Connolly is the most likely attacking option which Gavin will turn to from his substitutes if in trouble up front, with former Footballer of the Year Bernard Brogan unlikely to make the match-day 26 after falling out of favour.

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The inclusion of Gavin White at half-forward is expected to be Keane's only change - although the returning Jack Barry is pushing hard for a midfield slot - with the Kerry captain White missing out from the start the last day due to illness.

Brian Ó Beaglaoich is likely to drop to wing-back after a solid semi-final display with veteran Shane Enright tipped to miss out.

Irish Independent

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