All-Ireland Football Final Tips: Geaney can show his class

Jack Barry and Dean Rock
Jack Barry hassles Dean Rock in the drawn game

We still have history in the making in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship replay at Croke Park on Saturday evening as Dublin face Kerry, with punters in a quandary, says Johnny Ward...

"It was an incredible game on so many levels, restoring the love of the lapsed in what remains a great game, that of Gaelic football."

Dublin v Kerry
Saturday, 18:30

"In essence, I expect goals in this game. Dublin's full-back line has not been tested fully yet... back a major in each half at 4/6."

So wrote I 13 days ago. I was right, but I was also wrong, in that I thought Kerry needed two or three goals to win, yet they could easily have won by scoring just one goal.

It was an incredible game on so many levels, restoring the love of the lapsed in what remains a great game, that of Gaelic football. There was very little of the defensive stuff, nothing of the blanket; red cards, penalties, penalties missed; goals, misses, outrageous scores, hearts pounding well beyond the last whistle.

Kerry gaining respect in Match Odds market

We have done well in our tips in the All-Ireland finals this year but it does not get any easier. The bookmakers have eased Dublin into 1/3 from 1/5, and a case can be made for both the Dubs and Kerry at Betfair's quotes.

Was Kerry's aggressive, some may say kamikaze, press of Dublin's kickout a success? They certainly ruffled Stephen Cluxton in the first half, but left most of Drumcondra to the Dubs once they failed to field; it resulted in points and interceptions for the Kingdom but also serious losses at the other end.

And yet, Kerry can point to many things that went awry. The Irish Independent awarded their full-forward line seven out of ten each; if they could all get at least eight out of ten each, that would make a huge difference.

David Clifford's shooting was poor early in the game and Paul Geaney missed two goal chances he hardly expected to come his way in the first half. Against that, they were immense from frees, Sean O'Shea like a computer-generated weapon.

Dublin will point to Johnny Cooper's red card, that they were in a five-point lead twice in the game; that John Small was booked quite early; that Brian Fenton was pretty quiet.

Moreover, they only had four scorers in the game, with Paul Mannion and Con O'Callaghan registering just 0-3 between them. Tadhg Morley was excellent against Mannion and, whilst one expects the ace attacker to do better here, Geaney looks a bit of value to do better than him in the final personal tally match.

Geaney the key if Kingdom have chance of upset

On the basis of the first game, Geaney is a confident pick to get more than two points at 4/7. He is one of the best footballers in the country and may even feel he has a little point to prove.

We put up a goal in each half at 4-6 in the first game and we'll put it up again. Kerry have to target majors, whilst at the same time probably finding it next to impossible to stop at least one Dubs' green-flag. And, as we have said before, Dublin's full-back line is not its best by any stretch.

In the match betting, Dublin are a best-quote 1-3 with Betfair, and plenty will be tempted by that. However, there were times in the drawn game where they looked vulnerable defensively, and the nagging suspicion is that Kerry will have gotten a great deal of encouragement from that.

Some say they "left it behind them" but given how they trailed for most of the match, and were effectively under the cosh for most of the second half, that is hard to agree with. Indeed, they never gave up, and David Moran and Jack Barry showed phenomenal belief in the engine-room.

As we and most predicted, Tommy Walsh trundled on for the Kingdom to give them a whole new angle of attack; he played a key part in Killian Spillane's goal. He is the out-ball again for Peter Keane.

You do not need a bet to enjoy this, but we think we've found three. With the Leger, the Irish Champion Stakes and the action at Croker, what a day of sport!

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