They denied him a second All-Ireland winners’ medal last September but Karl Lacey still hasn’t seen enough from Kerry to make him think they will overcome Dublin in this year’s final.
Donegal’s four-time All Star is giving a narrow vote of confidence to Dublin ahead of Sunday, principally because of the two semi-final ties with Mayo which have raised their intensity levels significantly.
Lacey believes that the availability of Cian O’Sullivan, who plays in the same centre-back position as him, will be key too as the Kilmacud Crokes man battles an aggravated hamstring injury.
And the 2012 All-Ireland medallist maintained that as things stand right now, Dublin deserve to go into the decider as favourites to collect a third title in five seasons.
“Both teams will come out and go for it,” predicted Lacey. “I think the two games Dublin had in the semi-final against Mayo will stand to them. You can say what you want but they weren’t tested up until the first Mayo game.
“So that game and the second one will stand to them. If they had just beaten Mayo the first day and gone into the final, it might have been a different story but I think their intensity levels are up now where they should be at this time of year.
“Cian O’Sullivan’s fitness will have a big bearing on the game. I think Dublin need him fit, especially if Kerry are going to play Donaghy inside. It’s a tough one to call but, for me, I think it’s going to be a win for Dublin. I just think they are going to have enough to get it done.
“Now if Cian O’Sullivan doesn’t play, that’s going to be a massive help to Kerry. It would be much tougher on Dublin but I still don’t know if I’d swing it for Kerry, I still think Dublin have the strength in the squad.” Lacey claimed that while Colm Cooper hasn’t been as influential as in previous seasons, he can still “win the game within 10 minutes” if not closely marked.
“The likes of the ‘Gooch’ could put on a show for Kerry and win the game within 10 minutes. He is definitely somebody Dublin have to earmark and man mark for the 70 minutes.
“Even if he is standing over in the corner, he is going to have to be watched. It’s just like the flick of a light-switch with him, he can just turn it on.
“You have the likes of Paul Galvin and Tommy Walsh too, boys that haven’t been talked about at all sitting on the bench. We haven’t seen much of them this year and there was huge talk about them at the start of the year.” Lacey, 31, is mulling over his own future at present as one of six All-Ireland medallists in the Donegal panel currently 30 or over.
The centre-back indicated he will continue on if he is allowed to ease back into training at some stage next spring and suggested a similar less is more policy could be used to accommodate the other elder players.
“I’ll sit down and have a chat with Rory Gallagher, it’s his call at the end of the day,” said Lacey. “I don’t know what his plans are but if he wants me back in November, December, January time for training, I don’t think my body will sustain that for the whole season.” The situation with long-serving goalkeeper Paul Durcan is less clear following his decision to relocate to the Middle East.
“He is in Qatar, his wife has got a teaching job over there. I was talking to him during the week and he’s just taking a bit of time to suss out the lie of the land over there. He wants to enjoy a bit of time off as well.”
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