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GAA Betting: Red Hand the value in epic semi-final

Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey
Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey will be a key man against Kerry
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Sunday sees a hard game to call between Munster champions Kerry and perennial challengers Tyrone at Croke Park. Johnny Ward believes the latter look the part, in what should be a cracker.

"Kerry have not come out the right side of a real battle yet this season, having lost the league final and given away a lead against Donegal in the Super 8s"

Red Hand the value in epic semi-final

Kerry v Tyrone
Sunday, 15:30

Despite racing into a nice lead early on in last year's All-Ireland final, there was never much of a sense that Tyrone might beat Dublin.

Colm Cavanagh reflected after the game, saying that his team was not really sure what to do to manage the game, and started hitting pot-shots against their better judgment.

In the circumstances, they performed pretty well, and gave the impression that they were still an evolving team, despite Mickey Harte being at the helm since 2003.

The feeling that it might be a different Tyrone team this year rather began in March when Harte declared a 1-14 to 1-11 victory over Dublin in the National Football League "a very satisfying one", and you could understand why.

Tyrone's victory was all the more impressive considering they were reduced to 14 men for the final 25 minutes of the match after Niall Sludden was given his marching orders after committing a black-card offence after earlier being yellow-carded.

This was no fluke and Dublin fielded something close to their best team, with Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy, John Small; Brian Fenton, Brian Howard, Paul Mannion, Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O'Callaghan all starting.

They have gone from uber-defensive to something much more nuanced. Harte has had to evolve because they were struggling to make any impact against Dublin but Kerry is a different story.

Tyrone and Kerry had a remarkable rivalry in the first decade of this century, Tyrone having the upper-hand, and there is a sense Harte will know how to deal with the resurgent Kingdom here.

Much will depend on how the Red Hand deal with David Clifford and Paul Geaney but they have brilliant man-marking defenders like Rory Brennan, as well as one of the best half-back lines in the game.

It will be a major boost if, as expect, Padraig Hampsey starts for the Ulstermen, and this top-class defender may get the job of marking Clifford.

Kerry have not come out the right side of a real battle yet this season, having lost the league final and given away a lead against Donegal in the Super 8s; their other wins were comfortable against inferior rivals. Since losing to Donegal, Tyrone have really matured, and considering their disastrous start against Cork, it was impressive how they turned it around.

They are a seriously tough team mentally, with Peter Harte, Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane likely to cause Kerry lots of problems. Tyrone will probably be a little more defensive in this game but the Kerry full-back line remains a cause for concern and at 6-4 Tyrone can certainly be backed to cause a minor upset.

It is tempting too to tip up unders in the points tally, but both these attacks have the potential to cause plenty of damage. This is an exciting young Kerry team, many of them having come through the minor ranks under Peter Keane, but they face a wily old dog here.

Johnny Ward,

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