As it began, so shall it finish.
It was Kerry who provided the opposition for Dublin back at the tail end of January when the league kicked off, and the counties will wrap their spring campaigns up in a nice, tidy bow in a fortnight when they meet in the competition decider for the first time in 29 years.
Dublin were two goals the better side the last time they met in Croke Park, but Jim Gavin pointed out that his side were two weeks further into their season’s preparations that day, given the Kingdom’s recent return from a team holiday.
“We haven’t come across them (since), they haven’t been on our radar,” he said. “But we understand the quality that they have. We know their starting 15 and the players they can bring off the bench and the new players they have to add. “They’re a quality side, they’re full of stars. When we sit down to have a look at them, that’ll be reflected in the tapes. But, look, in Division 1 and Division 2, there’s only a kick of a ball between most teams.”
It’s as appealing a league final as could be wished for, really. Two historic rivals, a glut of big names and with the backdrop of last September’s All-Ireland final meeting still filtering through the passing months to lend a touch of bite to the occasion.
Or so you would hope.
Gavin spoke yesterday of how both would “have one eye” on the championship so it is less a chase for a trophy than one last chance to fine-tune a few things against a decent opposition before the summer kicks in and everyone’s focus is fully tilted towards the same goal.
Kerry should, at least, have much more about them than Donegal who failed to slow Dublin’s inexorable advance on a fourth consecutive league title, though Gavin played down the theory that Rory Gallagher’ s side had been far more accommodating on this occasion.
“We would have expected them to set up that way, to get numbers back and then get players on with pace and try and counter-attack, which they’re extremely proficient at. They obviously had Michael (Murphy) up there and they probably got a bit more forward. We’ve seen how they can play.
“In the opening rounds of the National League, they put big scores up. I’m just happy from the Dublin perspective to get that performance. Defensively, we were solid. Good structure. And offensively, good spread of scores throughout the team. So, just satisfied with the result and happy to get the performance.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved