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All-Ireland Football Final Tips: Goal heavy game looms at Croke Park

Kerry's David Moran
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We have history in the making in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship decider at Croke Park on Sunday as Dublin face Kerry, probably the biggest price the Kingdom have ever been in a final, and Johnny Ward fancies some goals at HQ.

"Will the fact Dublin are on the verge of an historic five in a row matter? Perhaps it will but this team seems more like a relentless machine. You do not need a bet to enjoy this but if you win one or two it will help."

Dublin v Kerry
Sunday, 15:30

Goals the key if Kingdom have any chance of upset

Colm Cooper knew a thing or two about beating Dublin, and also what was needed to do so, though he rarely if ever faced a side as good as this one.

"It's a very difficult game to see Kerry winning," Cooper told RTE this week, "and the best chance of them winning is to get three goals, in my opinion, and while I think they can put up a big score my fear on the other side is can they keep the Dubs out.

"I'm going up to see a very positive performance from Kerry, but the most likely result is Dublin coming out on top."

Cooper fears what a hammering would do to football in Kerry and that cannot be ruled out, with Dublin 1/5 favourites with Betfair, but his point about goals is key to a betting angle to this fascinating game.

I tipped Mayo at similar odds to beat Dublin in the semi-final. At half-time, it was all going pretty well, with Dublin out to 1/2 in running and trailing by two points.

What followed in the opening five minutes or so of the second half can go down in history as the quickest completion of the quelling of an uprising ever recorded. It was incredible stuff.

Did Mayo really believe they could win? Perhaps they did. However, as well as the green and red played in the first half, they probably tried to ape their rivals to the extent that it harmed their own chances of scoring a proper tally.

Mayo had a basic idea that if they had the ball it meant that Dublin didn't. The problem was they were very reluctant to take risks, rarely if ever looking like scoring a goal before it was too late and creating few enough point taking opportunities.

Mayo probably do not have the forwards to beat Dublin but Kerry will have looked at that semi-final and realised that they have to back themselves if they have any chance. I cannot see them winning this game without scoring at least two goals and in David Clifford, Paul Geaney et al they have the artillery.

Moreover, it was evident how goals hungry the Dubs were against Mayo, Con O'Callaghan in particular thirsty for the blood of a major whenever he was near the 21-yard-line. Everyone expects Kerry's full-back line to have a tough afternoon and it is next to impossible to envisage them not leaking at least one goal.

In essence, I expect goals in this game. Dublin's full-back line has not been tested fully yet and if Tommy Walsh is introduced, which is a near certainty, they will likely face a few high balls which may result in a goal for the Kingdom. Back a major in each half at 4/6.

Two other bets appeal. John Small has had a relatively quiet campaign but is a superb footballer and he should pop up with a chance or two, spurning a good one against Mayo, especially as the game is stretched. Take him to score.

Finally, Hawkeye was called for in the Mayo game and, with the umpires frightened to get any call wrong in a game as big as this, take the technology to be called on at some stage at 8/11.

If you are playing the handicap, the facts are that Dublin usually beat the spread but also that finals are generally close (the push came off 12 months ago; you have to rewind 12 years to 2007 to find the last All-Ireland final to be won by more than six points).

Kerry will have to do very well in midfield and will draw hope both from the excellent form of David Moran and that
Jack Barry has done an excellent man-marking job on the imperious Brian Fenton on the last two occasions the sides have clashed.

Will the fact Dublin are on the verge of an historic five in a row matter? Perhaps it will but this team seems more like a relentless machine. You do not need a bet to enjoy this but if you win one or two it will help.

Johnny Ward,

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