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Saturday 7 December 2019

Frank Roche: 'Kerry seethe as Dubs pen a new rivalry script ...'

HERO OF 2011: Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton. Photo: SPORTSFILE
HERO OF 2011: Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Question: How do you drive a Kerryman demented? Answer: Start waxing lyrical about Dublin/Kerry in the rare auld times, especially that particular epoch launched by Kevin Mac and Clucko in the year of twenty-eleven.

"God, sure it only feels like yesterday. Fair play to Kerry: they have made us what we are. The sight of that green and gold jersey always bring out the best in us. And when it's all over, win, lose or draw, they'll always shake your hand."

And all the while, our Kerryman silently seethes. He knows that, in this interminable Decade of the Dubs, he has invariably shaken hands as a loser.

League bragging rights are worth diddly-squat when measured against the true barometer: high summer in Croke Park.

Whitewash

This decade of Dublin/Kerry has been like none before. Even though Kerry 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' in 2011, '13 and '16 - and somehow finished within three points despite being played off the park in '15 - the bald statistic is four-nil. And most neutrals are confidently predicting a five-nil whitewash to complete the Drive for Five.

Once upon a time, cute Kerry hoors used to regale us with tales of a rivalry that was "iconic" (don't you just hate the word). They would constantly reference the seventies - the one time this vaguely represented a battle of equals - in the knowledge that this would make his gullible city cousin feel good about life.

And then Kerry would go out and beat Dublin by hook, or by crook, or sometimes by a landslide.

Consider the epic Dublin famines in this supposedly fabled rivalry: 42 years (including six Kerry wins and a draw) between the victories of 1934 and 1976; then another 34 years (incorporating eight Kerry wins and the 'Maurice Fitz' draw) between the famous triumphs of that '77 semi-final and 2011 breakthrough.

Ahead of Sunday's rematch we stumbled upon a brilliantly insightful deconstruction of the Dublin/Kerry rivalry, penned by former Kerry forward Dara Ó Cinnéide in the Irish Examiner just days ahead of that watershed 2011 final.

"To those of us reared on the romance of the Kerry Golden Years video, the claim that Dublin v Kerry is still a rivalry of equals just doesn't bear relation to reality - it's anything but equal," Ó Cinnéide wrote.

"Although their paths might have crossed the same amount of times (five including the 2001 replay) in the championship in the noughties as they did in the seventies, Dublin have played the role of sparring partner or kingmaker for the real contenders too often in recent times.

"Kerry have won eight and drawn one of the last nine games between them. That's bordering on hegemony and, while Kerry folk respectfully tend to make little of this lopsided relationship, there is a sense among them that their team is always capable of beating Dublin."

That was then. This is now. For Kerry, the "rare auld times" of Dublin before Kevin Mac and Clucko must seem like forever ago.

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