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Kerry can battle back to secure semi-final versus Dubs



DECISION TIME: Dublin manager Jim Gavin must decide whether or not to rest some of his front-runners this weekend. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

DECISION TIME: Dublin manager Jim Gavin must decide whether or not to rest some of his front-runners this weekend. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile


DECISION TIME: Dublin manager Jim Gavin must decide whether or not to rest some of his front-runners this weekend. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Next weekend sees the conclusion of the 'Super 8' format and while two counties have already guaranteed semi-final places there is still an awful lot to play for.

The Dubs and Galway have qualified already, Dublin in top spot no matter what happens against Roscommon, with Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan and Kerry still in the mix.

Kildare and Roscommon have nothing but pride to play for but both have contributed positively to the new format and it might have been a different scenario for the Lilywhites had they got something out of their first game with Monaghan.

Roscommon are the only team that have looked out of their depth and are likely to finish off their campaign with another heavy defeat on Sunday when they travel to Croker to face Dublin.

However, Jim Gavin may tinker with the starting 15 to rest some lads and to give some of the fringe players an opportunity to impress or he may decide to go very strong.

I actually Jim will overly concern himself with the six-day turnaround to their semi-final and will send out his troops with the same mind-set as ever - the one that has made them unbeatable in the championship for four summers.

For Roscommon this is an opportunity to throw off the shackles and attack the game from beginning to end.

This approach will give them a very clear idea where they are at present and more importantly where they need to get to.

We have had a lot of very tactically defensive games in the group stages but this game could be wide open with plenty of scores at both ends.


I have enjoyed the Super 8s but we all need an open, attacking game and this contest may give us just that.

The Kerry versus Kildare match could be similar but the Kingdom have stuttered since the Munster final and are in danger of crashing out at the group stages even if they win.

It will be interesting to see how they approach this encounter in Killarney and the Kerry supporters will demand a massive performance.

This is a very good Kerry team with some terrific young players.

There is outrageous pace and quality but there seems to be something holding them back.

They were completely bullied by Galway in the first game and totally outplayed in Clones by Monaghan yesterday week.

To their credit they battled to the very end to pickpocket a draw and that fighting quality is something that will stand to them.

It was a very strange match from a Kerry point of view in terms of the changes they made particularly in the second-half when the real pressure came on.

This coming weekend they have home advantage and will surely go and attack Kildare but Cian O'Neill's men are a very good outfit and will certainly cause plenty of problems for the Kerry defenders.

However, they will be missing their best forward Daniel Flynn, unless he can successfully appeal his red-card (against Galway).

It is a game that Kerry have to win not just to give them a chance of getting to the last-four but they also need to win to give them something to build on for the future should they fail to qualify for this year's semi-finals.

Monaghan travel to Pearse Stadium, Salthill knowing a win will give them top spot in the group and avoid Dublin in the semi-final.

What an incentive for both teams but this will probably mean a very dour, defensively-minded game which could put some of the supporters to sleep.

Galway and Monaghan have some terrific forwards but there will be no room for them to breathe.

This will be tactical and cautious and may only catch fire in the last quarter when one team needs to make a move.

But it could get very interesting if the sides are level in the concluding minute or so as a draw would see both counties into the semi-final and eliminate Kerry.

I think Galway are a better team and their graph has been rising over the last two seasons and the fact that they have home advantage should get them over the line but I wouldn't rule out a tactical draw.

In the other group Tyrone head to Ballybofey and a win for either team will get them out of the group in second place.

Tyrone are coming off the back of a defeat to the Dubs while Donegal have winning momentum behind them having easily accounted for Roscommon in their last outing.

That can be a huge advantage but Tyrone are a decent team and will relish the challenge.

They need to come out of their cocoon and play a more attacking game on this occasion.

There is nothing wrong with going for it but the Tyrone players have been programmed to defend and that can be difficult to change mid-season.

Donegal are more attack minded this year and have reaped the benefits.

They are the reigning Ulster champions and they have home advantage and they also have a rejuvenated Michael Murphy.

I can see the Super 8 series of games ending with Dublin playing Kerry and Donegal playing Galway for a place in this year's All-Ireland SFC decider.