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Wounded Dublin set to conquer in two-horse race; THE STORY OF THE 2014 SEASON.

FOOTBALL IT might sound boring and even predictable, but only two teams can win this year's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and both should be shorter in the betting.

Mayo have surely missed their chance and, unless they have unearthed a few quality forwards over the last six weeks, then another Connacht title might even be beyond them.

Cork had their limitations exposed in the league final. Donegal will probably need another year to evolve under Rory Kavanagh and Tyrone are a pale shadow of the side who lifted the Sam Maguire in 2008. The rest don't appear to have any chance at all.

That leaves us with Dublin and Kerry, the only two teams capable of going all the way. An argument in my local pub recently ended with me telling a friend that I would spend a night in the boozer in just my boxers if Dublin or Kerry didn't win the All-Ireland and I doubt I'll be spending early September doing sit-ups for fear of my belly being exposed.

Dublin probably should be evens or perhaps a shade of odds-on, while Kerry shouldn't be any bigger than 5-2. Any bookmaker worth their salt could surely go 12-1 bar the pair.

It's safe to say that Kerry didn't show their full hand in the league. They barely showed a single card in fact. Three wins, three losses and one defeat gave them seven points which was sufficient to avoid relegation but not enough to book a place in the semi-finals. It seems likely that was exactly what Eamon Fitzmaurice would have wanted.

The way the Munster Championship works, with only Cork capable of troubling them, means that Fitzmaurice can gear all his training towards peaking in August and September. That could be when Colm Cooper is at his best too and, with Tommy Walsh back in the mix, the Kingdom look a stronger side than the one that went all the way in 2014.

The problem for Kerry is that a wounded Dublin stand in their way. If Diarmuid Connolly had gone for power rather than placement with his giltedged goal opportunity in their first half of their semi-final showdown with Donegal, Dublin would have been crowned All-Ireland champions.

Can they learn from their mistakes? In the league it looked like they have.

Most observers felt their dull duel with Derry was worse than watching paint dry but at least it showed that they can be patient.

Dublin had the best defence in Division 1 and conceded only 84 points in the group stages, an average of 12 points a game. Donegal, the socalled masters of defending in the modern game, conceded one point more than Dublin.

Jim Gavin seems to have found a suitable system to clog up that key area between the full-back and halfback line. They haven't completely changed their style, they have just altered it ever so slightly to ensure a disaster like Donegal doesn't happen again.

Dean Rock, who is a fantastic freetaker, has firmly established himself as a starter and it would be no surprise to see Cormac Costello do likewise. Ciaran Kilkenny is back from injury and those are three terrifically talented forward to be bringing into the fold.

Dublin should have won last year's All-Ireland. They didn't. But they showed in 2013 that they perform best when their appetitive is raging. It's Dublin's All-Ireland to lose but have a saver on Kerry.

Recommendations Dublin to win All-Ireland SFC 4pts 6-4 general Kerry to win All-Ireland SFC 1pt 10-3 BoyleSports With no Colm Cooper, Kerry drifted from 4-1 in January to 14-1 by June 29. They were underdogs for the Munster Final too but a 0-24 to 0-12 victory over Cork saw their price tumble for All-Ireland glory.

Dublin started the campaign as hot favourites and the biggest bet struck with Paddy Power was a €45,000 wager on them to win the All-Ireland at 4-9. But the Dubs made a shock exit in the semi-final to Donegal, and Paddy Power paid out over €500,000 to Donegal backers who could not fathom how a team that had won an All-Ireland and three Ulster titles in the last couple of years were 5-1 to beat any team.

They were proved right!


Dublin's Dean Rock (right) has a great chance to be top scorer
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:May 15, 2015
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