Barney Rock warns Tyrone are waiting in the long grass

Barney Rock has described the Division 1 showdown between Dublin and Kerry as the “ideal final” but warns Tyrone are the team to watch for the Championship.

The three-time All Star refuses to believe a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland decider on April 24 means Dublin and Kerry will again face off in September.

For one, he points out the Leinster and Munster winners are drawn on the same side this year. 

“Tyrone are the team to watch this year, one would sense, because they’ve cruised through Division 2. All of a sudden they’re right back in it. They will be a team on one side that will probably be in an All-Ireland final because if they go on to win Ulster you’d expect them to be in the All-Ireland final after that.

“They could have beaten Kerry last year and probably should have beaten Kerry. That might have been a different ball game then in the final.”

Rock, who was on the Dublin team that beat Kerry in their last Division 1 final clash in 1987, believes the Kingdom would love to topple their rivals. 

“They are setting themselves up in many ways even though they might be saying, ‘Ah, it doesn’t mean much’, but for Kerry to come and beat Dublin in a national final in Croke Park is something I think they’re looking to do.

“From Dublin’s point of view, they will be looking to keep winning. They’re going to try and do something that no other team has done in more than 40 years and that’s win four league titles in a row.”

Rock has noticed how Kerry have moved with the times in terms of tactics and strategies. “Kerry are developing with the game, they’ve seen it going on and they’ve seen all the teams getting players back behind the ball,” he said.

“At one stage, there were 15 fellas inside their 65-yard line. It’ll be interesting to see whether they’ll do that against Dublin. But there’ll be some great battles, like Philly (McMahon) and the Gooch, if that’s the way it lines up. I expect it’ll be a great game.”

Dublin have so far shown little or no suggestion that they are missing Rory O’Carroll’s presence at full-back, said Rock. 

“At the moment, they’ve handled whatever has been thrown at them. [On Sunday] there were a few high, long balls kicked into Michael Murphy and Dublin dealt with it and I’ve no doubt that Kerry will start putting high balls in. They’ll be different forwards and Kerry have the cutest forwards of the whole lot.

“They’ll create goal opportunities so it should be an interesting set-up. You’d have to give credit to the lads who have gone in there and played.

“Rory O’Carroll had to start somewhere years ago, back in 2009, 2010, and Davy Byrne at the minute he has to start now. He’s only 21 or 22. He’s played very well so far.”

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: 
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