All-Ireland Final: Dublin, Kerry duel will be defined by midfield battler, says Jack O’Connor

James McCarthy’s experience in midfield can help give Dublin the edge over Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Final

The GAA is getting primed for what promises to be one of its biggest personal duels for some time when Kerry confront Dublin in Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park (3.30pm).

While both sides are generously spliced ​​with talented players – many of whom boast a shoal of honors – there is no doubt that the outcome of the midfield battle between Kerry duo Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry and the Dubs’ pairing of Brian Fenton and James McCarthy will have a huge bearing on the outcome of the match.

In the past, much has been made in advance of potential midfield warfare, but such are the imposing credentials of the quarteret who will man the middle ground on this occasion that the key to victory will lie in this area.

With the partnership between O’Connor and Barry having flourished in the Kingdom’s Semi-Final defeat of Derry, and Fenton and McCarthy imposing themselves forcibly against Monaghan in their last-four tie, all is in readiness for a set-to between the irresistible force and the immovable object.

Even a majestic display by Derry’s Brendan Rogers in particular proved insufficient to curb Kerry’s authority in the middle third of the park, while Monaghan’s Hughes brothers Darren and Kieran strove manfully to restrict Dublin’s formidable Fenton-McCarthy alliance.

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor is in no doubt that the midfield engagement will fashion the result of the showpiece.

“While the name of the game in Semi-Finals is to get over them, it’s different in a Final. Since our Semi-Final win, we have been working on aspects of our game. We know that this is going to be a seriously intense Final, especially at midfield,” O’Connor insists.

“We will be going out to play positive football on the front foot. That’s the way it will be for both teams as I see it.”

Dubs chief Dessie Farrell is aware that Fenton and McCarthy are hitting the right note at the most vital stage of the season, and hopes they can replicate the form they showed in the triumph over Monaghan against a Kerry side that clearly see dominance in midfield as a core element of their strategy.

“Obviously it’s a vital area, and gaining possession there is paramount,” stresses Farrell.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo