Dublin v Kerry: How the players match up ahead of All-Ireland final showdown
Martin Breheny rates the players ahead of the All-Ireland final.
1. STEPHEN CLUXTON (Captain)
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He has already set a record as the only man to captain his county to four successive All-Ireland titles. Will he make it five? Including one replay, this will be his eighth All-Ireland final, seven as captain. He has conceded five goals – never more than one per game – in seven finals, while keeping clean sheets against Kerry in 2015 and Mayo in 2016 (draw).
Club: Parnells; Age: 37; Height: 6'0”; Weight: 12st 9lbs;
C'ship debut: 2001; All-Stars: 5
2. DAVID BYRNE
He missed all of last year's championship due to injury, but has made an impressive return this season. He started six of Dublin's seven championship games and came on as a sub in the Super 8s clash with Roscommon. He had a particularly good game against Mayo in the
Club: Naomh Olaf; Age: 25; Height: 5'11”;
Weight: 13st 5lbs; C'ship debut: 2015; All-Stars: 0
3. JONNY COOPER
Which Kerry forward will Jim Gavin target for the Cooper treatment? Whoever it is, he will be in for a tough afternoon against one of the most tigerish defenders in the game. Cooper loves the close-quarter, man-marking encounters, but doesn't confine himself to security duty, often darting forward to join Dublin's sweeping upfield moves.
Club: Na Fianna; Age: 29; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 12st 0lbs; C'ship debut: 2013; All-Stars: 2
4. MICHAEL FITZSIMONS
He is a prime example of what a player can achieve if he is persistent enough. There were times over the years when it looked as if Fitzsimons was slipping down the pecking order, but he stuck with it. He started six of Dublin's seven games in this campaign, missing out only on the Super 8s clash with Tyrone, when Jim Gavin played a largely second-string side.
Club: Cuala; Age: 31; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 13st 0lbs; C'ship debut: 2010; All-Stars: 1
5. JACK McCAFFREY
Fourth favourite to win the Footballer of the Year for a second time, he will attempt to use his searing pace to attack at every opportunity. However, Kerry will have noted that he wasn't particularly comfortable in defending duties when Patrick Durcan took him on with strong running. Peter Keane will charge one of his forwards with a similar responsibility.
Club: Clontarf; Age: 25; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 12st 11lbs; C'ship debut: 2012; All-Stars: 3
6. JAMES McCARTHY
Equally comfortable at half-back or midfield, he has featured in both roles at various times this season. Likes to get forward when the chances arise. A proven big-day performer, his strength and combative nature will be important in Dublin's plans to outmuscle Kerry. He will have figured prominently on the Kingdom's planning board.
Club: Ballymun Kickhams; Age: 29; Height: 6'1”; Weight: 13st 3lbs; C'ship debut: 2010; All-Stars: 3
7. JOHN SMALL
Sent off in the All-Ireland final against Mayo two years ago, he continues to live on the edge, the most recent example coming against Mayo in the semi-final when he picked up a yellow card in the first half and was lucky to avoid a second one later on. That apart, he is an excellent defender but he needs to be tidier with his tackling.
Club: Ballymun Kickhams; Age: 26; Height: 6'0”; Weight: 13st 10lbs; C'ship debut: 2015; All-Stars: 0
8. BRIAN FENTON
Still to experience defeat in 35 championship appearances since making his debut in 2015. Last season's Footballer of the Year, another big performance and a Dublin win could see him become the first player since Jack O'Shea in 1984-'85 to win the award in successive seasons. He is Dublin's third-highest scorer from play (3-8) behind Paul Mannion and Con O'Callaghan.
Club: Raheny; Age: 26; Height: 6'4”;
Weight: 14st 3lbs; C'ship debut: 2015; All-Stars: 3
9. MICHAEL DARRAGH MACAULEY
The 2013 Footballer of the Year starts an All-Ireland final for the first time since the drawn game with Mayo in 2016. He has recaptured the energy and effervescence of his best years, which he showed against Mayo before being replaced after 50 minutes. That seems to be his role now – empty the tank in the first three quarters before making way for a fired-up replacement.
Club: Ballyboden St Enda's; Age: 33; Height: 6'3”; Weight: 14st 7lbs; C'ship debut: 2010; All-Stars: 2
10. NIALL SCULLY
Hard work underpins everything he does, the most recent example coming against Mayo, especially in the first half when things weren't going Dublin's way. Does most of his best work in the middle third which explains why his strike rate (1-4 in this championship) is relatively low. Jim Gavin is quite happy with him once he continues contributing to the supply chain.
Club: Templeogue Synge Street; Age: 25; Height: 6'0”; Weight: 12st 2lbs; C'ship debut: 2017; All-Stars: 0
11. CON O'CALLAGHAN
Joint favourite with Brian Fenton for the Footballer of the Year award, he scored two goals against Mayo to take his total for the championship to 4-9, which is already five points better than he managed in all of last year's campaign. He will have occupied much of Peter Keane's planning time in recent weeks, especially how to keep him away from the
Club: Cuala; Age: 23; Height: 5'11”; Weight: 12st 13lbs; C'ship debut: 2016. All-Stars: 1
12. BRIAN HOWARD
A pivotal figure nowadays, he does the simple things well, but is also capable of producing classy moments which can make a big difference, especially in a close contest. Effective at half-back/midfield/half-forward, he offers Jim Gavin a wide range of options. Did well in the semi-final after a slow start.
Club: Raheny; Age: 22; Height: 6'0”; Weight 13st 4lbs; C'ship debut: 2017; All-Stars 1
13. PAUL MANNION
Third favourite behind Con O'Callaghan and Brian Fenton to win the Footballer of the Year award, he has scored 0-22 (0-5 against Mayo in the semi-final) from play in this championship. There's a lot more to his game than finishing – he is also an excellent tackler and a very hard worker, which often takes him deep into defence.
Club: Kilmacud Crokes; Age: 26; Height: 6'2”; Weight: 13st 6lbs; C'ship debut: 2013; All-Stars: 2
14. DEAN ROCK
Missed the games against Louth and Kildare, but he came on as a sub against Meath and Cork and started against Roscommon and Mayo, where he did well in general play as well as pointing six frees. Proven on the big occasion, his steely nerve has been very important on days when Dublin were seriously challenged in All-Ireland finals.
Club: Ballymun Kickhams; Age: 29; Height: 6'1”; Weight: 13st 6lbs; C'ship debut: 2013; All-Stars: 2
15. CIARÁN KILKENNY
One significant difference between this and last season is the drop in his strike rate. He was Dublin's highest scorer from play (2-24) in last year's championship, compared to 1-9 so far in this campaign. Still, he remains very important to their build-up play as they work to get the finishers into scoring positions. He is usually at the heart of their keep-ball operation.
Club: Castleknock; Age: 26; Height: 6'1”; Weight: 13st 10lbs; C'ship debut: 2012; All-Stars: 3
Five All-Ireland, five Allianz League and seven Leinster titles since 2013 is a remarkable haul for Jim Gavin and his entourage. Neither team nor management have been fully tested for a long time.
OFF THE BENCH
Riches aplenty with (in order of age) Kevin McManamon (32), Diarmuid Connolly (32), Cian O'Sullivan (31), Philly McMahon (31), Paddy Andrews (31), Cormac Costello (25), Eric Lowndes (25) and Eoin Murchan (23) leading the on-call group.
1. SHANE RYAN
Dublin have had the same goalkeeper for 17 years, whereas Ryan is Kerry's third No 1 in two seasons (Shane Murphy and Brian Kelly shared the duties in 2018). He had a few problems with kick-outs against Tyrone in the semi-final but was very good in all other facets.
Club: Rathmore; Age 23; Height: 6'2”; Weight: 14st 2lbs; C'ship debut: 2019; All-Stars: 0
2. JASON FOLEY
Had a difficult day against Cathal McShane, who scored 0-4 from play, in the semi-final, but context needs to be applied. The supply was very good and McShane is quite a talent, having scored 3-23 from play in Tyrone's championship campaign. He lacked consistent support, something that won't apply tomorrow, so Foley knows what to expect in his first All-Ireland final.
Club: Ballydonoghue; Age: 21; Height: 6'1”;
Weight: 13st 5lbs; C'ship debut: 2018; All-Stars: 0
3. TADHG MORLEY
It's his first All-Ireland final, but he's in his fourth championship season so he's not short of experience, which will be vital against such a formidable Dublin attack. Marked Mattie Donnelly, quite effectively at times, for most of the semi-final, a difficult role against one of Tyrone's lead performers. Question is – what assignment will Peter Keane hand him tomorrow?
Club: Templenoe; Age: 25; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 13st 0lbs; C'ship debut: 2016; All-Stars: 0
4. TOM O'SULLIVAN
Man-of-the-match contender against Donegal when closing out the previously prolific Jamie Brennan, he was equally good against Tyrone, preventing Peter Harte from exerting any significant influence. He could well be sent in Paul Mannion's direction tomorrow as it's vital for Kerry to restrict the third favourite for Footballer of the Year, whether in the scoring zone or further back.
Club: Dingle; Age: 22; Height: 5'11”;
Weight: 12st 3lbs; C'ship debut: 2017; All-Stars: 0
5. PAUL MURPHY
One of Kerry's more experienced and versatile players, he was chosen at right full-back on the 2014 All-Stars team after Kerry's All-Ireland success. He filled the spare man role in defence for much of the time against Tyrone in the recent semi-final, but couldn't get into the game as he would have liked, especially in an attacking sense. Will be required to perform a more orthodox marking role tomorrow.
Club: Rathmore; Age: 28; Height: 5'10”;
Weight: 11st 1lb; C'ship debut: 2014; All-Stars: 1
6. GAVIN CROWLEY
He names Marc Ó Sé as his favourite player, a wise choice for any defender, given the expertise the 2007 Footballer of the Year brought to his game. This is Crowley's first championship season, so Dublin will target him, hoping their wily campaigners can exploit his lack of big-day experience. Struggled against Niall Sludden early on in the semi-final but settled in as the game progressed.
Club: Templenoe; Age: 24; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 12st 12lbs; C'ship debut: 2019; All-Stars: 1
7. BRIAN Ó BEAGLAOICH
Handed a fetch-and-carry role in the middle third against Tyrone, he did it very effectively. He will have the same responsibilities tomorrow, although his defensive experience might be required more than in the
semi-final. Lists Ronaldo as the sportsman he would most like to meet – he will come face-to-face with some dancing feet in blue tomorrow.
Club: An Ghaeltacht; Age: 23; Height: 5'11”;
Weight: 12st 8lbs; C'ship debut: 2016; All-Stars: 0
8. DAVID MORAN
With Tommy Walsh, he is the longest-serving player on the squad and the only one with two All-Ireland medals (2009/2014). Excellent against Tyrone in the semi-final, this is an occasion when he has to take even more responsibility. Easier said than done when your direct opponent is Brian Fenton, already a leading contender to win Footballer of the Year for a second successive season. This is Moran's biggest test.
Club: Kerins O'Rahillys; Age: 32; Height: 6'3”;
Weight: 14st 6lbs; C'ship debut: 2008; All-Stars: 1
9. ADRIAN SPILLANE
Replaced at half-time against Tyrone after having a difficult time, he has obviously been doing enough on the training ground to convince Peter Keane that he is ready for the biggest day of all at HQ. The pedigree is good (his father, Tom, won four All-Ireland medals in the 1980s), but can he rise to tomorrow's massive challenge against such a formidable Dublin midfield pairing?
Club: Templenoe; Age: 25; Height: 6'1”;
Weight: 13st 1lb; C'ship debut: 2019; All-Stars: 0
10. GAVIN WHITE (Captain)
Black-carded against Meath in the final Super 8s game, he was left on the bench until half-time in the semi-final against Tyrone. He replaced Shane Enright for the second half. His pace was a real factor in Kerry's improvement and he has now been handed a chance to make it count against Dublin.
Club: Dr. Crokes; Age: 22; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 12st 2lbs; C'ship debut: 2018, All-Stars: 0
11. SEÁN O'SHEA
Kerry's top scorer on 1-38 (0-27 frees, 0-2 '45s), there's a lot more to his game than reliability off placed balls. Tomorrow's game may suit him better than the semi-final, where Conor Meyler tracked him relentlessly, while testing the limits of what's acceptable in man-marking. Still learning the trade, but Kerry need a big showing from one of their star youngsters.
Club: Kenmare; Age: 21; Height: 6'2”;
Weight: 13st 5lbs; C'ship debut: 2018; All-Stars: 0
12. STEPHEN O'BRIEN
Man of the match against Tyrone in the semi-final, he had to win a disciplinary battle over black cards to be eligible for the final. It was a crucial break for Kerry as his high-energy game will test the Dublin defence. Currently sixth favourite to win the Footballer of the Year award, he has scored 1-11 (all from play) in this championship, having earlier hit 3-8 in the Allianz League.
Club: Kenmare; Age: 28; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 13st 7lbs; C'ship debut: 2014
13. DAVID CLIFFORD
He scored a goal against Galway in the 2016 All-Ireland minor final and 4-4 against Derry a year later. Can he maintain the goal run in his first senior final? He hasn't scored a goal so far in this championship, but has contributed 22 points (16 from play). There's a feeling that if Kerry are to have a chance of winning, he must deliver something special in line with his awesome talents.
Club: Fossa; Age: 20; Height: 6'2”;
Weight: 13st 8lbs; C'ship debut: 2018; All-Stars: 1
14. PAUL GEANEY
He had a very good day against Dublin in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final, scoring 1-4 from play in Kerry's two-point loss, so he'll fancy having another go at their full-back line. He has contributed 2-13 in this campaign, 0-3 of which came against Tyrone in the semi-final when, in common with several of his colleagues, he raised his performance level considerably in the second half.
Club: Dingle; Age: 28; Height: 6'1”;
Weight: 13st 9lbs; C'ship debut: 2013; All-Stars: 1
15. KILLIAN SPILLANE
Another of Tom Spillane's sons, he's in his first championship season. Scored three points against both Donegal and Meath, but found it tougher up against Tyrone in the semi-final and was replaced coming up to the hour mark. He gets another big chance tomorrow against a mean defence that has restricted seven opponents to an average of 0-12 in this campaign.
Club: Templenoe; Age: 23; Height: 6'0”;
Weight: 13st 3lbs; C'ship debut: 2019; All-Stars: 0
Peter Keane is in his first season as a senior manager, as are selectors Tommy Griffin and James Foley. Donie Buckley and Maurice Fitzgerald bring vast experience to the set-up.
OFF THE BENCH
Jack Sherwood, Tommy Walsh, Shane Enright, Dara Moynihan, Jonathan Lyne and Jack Barry lead an impressive bench.