All work and no play makes WJ a dull boy. Certainly one with no time to devote to putting down a few sentences about what goes on at the weekend. Not even. Two word. Ones, like. What a week but, hey, it’s over and The Match is on tomorrow so here’s a few quick thoughts about it.
Quick and short, I suppose it should be – after all, there’s no point in adding to all those acres of Dub porn that’s being peddled at us this weekend. Amidst it all, the King of Dub Porn himself, Tom will no doubt be positively tumescent with anticipation for the big day and the excitement of seeing his beloved Dubs getting . . . the bejaysus hammered out of them once again by the Kerrymen?
As a card-carrying Bogger, there’s a part of me that always want to see the Dubs getting it in the neck. As a kid, I revelled in Kerry securing the upper hand in the Seventies tussle between them and took cruel, visceral delight in how the Kingdom comprehensively thrashed the Dubs in ’78 and again the following year. Even in the Eighties, by which time I was living in Dublin, I was still glad enough to see Kerry maintain their dominance, mainly because by then I’d had my own first-hand experience of what the crowing, cocky Dubs supporters can be like.
A bit of that is still there, I have to admit, whenever the “national” media is in full flow, extolling the virtues of what has been for over a decade a very ordinary county side. But - despite all that and the other things that rankle, such as the squatter’s rights granted over Hill 16 to the blue horde, the at times sheer stupidity of their supporters who never bloody turn up on time, the fact that rarely if ever do they have to stir from Croker (and when they do, spend all the next day giving out shite to Joe Duffy about it) and, yes, Tom Bloody Humphries - I still want them to win tomorrow. Why? Because it’s Kerry they’re playing – my enemy’s enemy time again – and, of course, because my own three little Dubs will also be shouting vociferously for De Boyz En Blew.
Will they do it? I really haven’t a clue, unlike Liam Hayes on Newstalk yesterday evening, who confidently predicted that the Dubs would win by seven or eight points. That fairly set Bomber Liston huffing and puffing but he, of course, wouldn’t hear of a Kerry defeat and was adamant that Pat O’Shea would have all manner of nefarious Plans B, C, and D (a bit like the Cat in the Hat with all those other little scrawny moggies hidden under his chapeau) ready for deployment.
Dublin are certainly the most consistent side this Summer and they have already exceeded what I thought they’d do (I said that they’d crash to the first half-decent side they met – Derry were that side but the Dubs beat them handily). They’ve also got a very settled lineup, albeit one that still has ten survivors from the last time they faced Kerry, back in 2004 when the Kingdom won pulling up. But the changes made since the Meath game, notably with Bernard Brogan (there’s a name to make the Kerrymen sit up and take notice) and Mark Vaughan coming in, have given the team a better balance and their midfield of Whelan and Ryan is performing better than ever.
It’s noteworthy that both sides have roughly the same kind of positives and negatives. Both have good attacks, decent midfields and pretty woeful defences. Kerry’s attack has the capacity to be more lethal, I think, but their defence looks more porous than Dublin’s, with Tom O’Sullivan painfully uncomfortable at full-back. If Dublin tear into that flaky backline from the off and build up a bit of a lead, it might be their day.
The big fear I’d have for them is that Kerry always up their game for the semi and, as we’ve twice found out to our cost, they up it again for the final. The quarter-final is the perfect time to ambush them: Munster is no good any more, as Cork discovered last year. Instead, the blow has to be a knockout one and Monaghan (in more ways than one) damn near delivered it a few weeks back. But the Kerry that will take the field tomorrow will be at least 100% better tuned than they were against Monaghan and so the Dubs will need to be in a position to up their game accordingly too.
And, of course, Kerry will be aching to put on a show for the Hill and knock those cocky Jacks down a peg or three, like their forefathers did before them. And if they’re looking for any further incentive, they’ll want to book their place in the first all-Munster face-off for Sam. As ever, Kerry won’t be lacking in reasons for why they want to win.
I have a horrible feeling that Kerry will be well up for it, that the Dubs will jam in second gear, that the Hill will go all quiet just when the team need their “support” and that Kerry will ease home by four or five. Then again, maybe Kerry are as poor as Liam Hayes claimed they were yesterday evening and, if so, the Dubs could be celebrating their first championship win over Kerry in exactly thirty years. But I still reckon Dubs fans should make it their business to purchase a copy of The Sun today, as included with it is a free DVD of that classic 1977 semi-final win. Just in case . . .