Friday 21 October 2016

Oldest rivalry turned fully on its head

Kerry adamant that Dublin haven't become their bogey team despite three recent losses

Dublin defender Jonny Cooper Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin defender Jonny Cooper Pic: Sportsfile

Depending on which Kerry player you read this week, Dublin either "have it over," the Kingdom just now (Marc Ó Sé) or aren't "a bogey team," (David Moran).

Kerry, meanwhile, "don't fear" Dublin (Bryan Sheehan) or "won't be thinking that they have beaten us three times," (Kieran Donaghy) when they play again tomorrow evening in Croke Park.

Separately, all were unanimous that the current situation, while not ideal, is certainly not irreversible.

Indeed, the unsaid - or at least, not-admitted - part of Ó Sé's and Donaghy's motivation for coming back for another year wasn't just the feeling that they might like to go out on the sort of high that more regularly visited both through the mid years of their careers.

But that they could, before they say adieu to inter-county life, scratch this particularly annoying itch which has manifested itself in the shape of the Dublin footballers.


Whatever part of the Kerry psyche you believe Dublin to occupy, it is, clearly, a complete juxtaposition in the fabled and much gushed-over relationship between the two.

"Look, we are playing Kerry and obviously we got one over on them in September," says Jonny Cooper, asked to establish which, if any, elements of the recently blue-washed rivalry will arrive in Croke Park tomorrow in the form of baggage with either team.

"It is probably a clean slate.

"They have an eye on last September and laying down a marker and everything else."

In a way, it's probably a shame the two reunite so soon into the New Year.

Clearly, there's sense in starting the League with the big bang the Championship lacks but so too would it be more intriguing and educational to see Dublin and Kerry battle in a part of the League when a) results have context and relevance and b) more of those who will play for both in summer are on th pitch.

"But it is still early doors and it is all about getting a good competitive game from our point of view," the Na Fianna defender continues.

"Obviously we want to win and everything else but a good competitive game that allows us to use the structures and systems we are trying to use.

"We are trying to evolve in 2016, and that is probably more important - getting that performance right."

Because when you're All-Ireland champions, you tend not to have too many lingering grudges.

The exception being last year when, as champions, Kerry greeted Dublin to Killarney the way you might greet a burglar in your home with a shovel.

Sheehan, who captains Kerry this year, made the point: "Were we labelled their bogey team when they hadn't beaten us for 34 years?"

The point is, Kerry were worse than that. Dublin were haunted by Kerry then. Downtrodden and oppressed.

And the more salient point is that only a handful of current Dublin players have lost to Kerry in the Championship.

Most now are three-for-three. And history, in so much as its relevant in this rivalry, seems to start in 2010 when Dublin won a League match in Killarney for the first time since 1982.

"I don't know. It's probably a cliché, but we just take every game as it comes," says Cooper when asked whether the idea of Dublin 'having it over' Kerry plays any part in their own preparation.

"Kerry and Dublin have the tradition and everything else, but this Dublin team doesn't have that baggage, looking back on what happened in the past - we just try to hit the games as they come

"I don't really see that point."


"That mindset is very much looking outside the box, not looking what it is in front of you. It is not about looking behind you.

"It is about what is in front of you and if that is Kerry or Mayo or whatever the opposition is and taking that game as the package that it is rather than taking any other game or some other era or some other decade had.

"Because," concludes Cooper, "I don't think that is relevant to our preparation."

nfl division 1: dublin v kerry, live setanta ireland, tomorrow (7.0)

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