Diarmuid Connolly BoyleSports Ambassador 2023 Picture BSI

Diarmuid Connolly: Benches Will Have Huge Say In All-Ireland Final

Dublin legend and BoyleSports ambassador Diarmuid Connolly has spoken exclusively to BoyleSports following the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals.

Connolly gave us his insight into the keys to victory for both Dublin and Kerry in their semi-finals against Monaghan and Derry respectively.

The six-time All-Ireland winner also previewed the upcoming All-Ireland Football Final and who he thinks can catch David Clifford in the race for the 2023 Footballer of the Year award.

Dublin v Monaghan Analysis

Result: Dublin 1-17 Monaghan 0-13

The scoreline probably didn’t reflect what Monaghan put up against Dublin. Dublin struggled with Conor McManus for long periods, but after half-time Dublin put the shackles on Monaghan’s forwards and just got the better of them.

They were able to bring big names off the bench and just blitzed them in that last 10-15 minutes and Cormac Costello was the standout man for me. Stephen Cluxton again was very good with his kick outs, especially the 50, 60-yard kicks that he hits like arrows. I think he got every single one of them off and he made a couple of saves too, because Monaghan did have a couple of half chances.

Fenton Finished Farney

But against Dublin in an All-Ireland semi-final, you need to take them. Dublin’s defence will be happy enough with 13 points against them, they were fairly solid. The midfield of James McCarthy and Brian Fenton in the second half was absolutely unbelievable. That’s what won the game for Dublin. Fenton had the best second half he’s had all year and really drove Dublin over the line.

Derry v Kerry Analysis

Result: Kerry 1-17 Derry 1-15

I’d say they’re very disappointed in the Derry camp. They’ve had an exceptional year and with five minutes to go, they were two points up. Shane McGuigan played well, Conor Glass was good in the middle of the field and Brendan Rogers was unbelievable going forward. Ciaran McFaul was a real find this year, he was everywhere, busy linking backs to forwards.

Derry got the early goal and how disappointed they must have been to concede a goal at the other end in the next play. I was watching Gareth McKinless after the goal, he was nearly celebrating. I was thinking, oh no, because there were only a couple of minutes on the clock and he’s nearly smiling to himself like ‘we’ve got these on the ropes.’ But he should have been running back to cover at the back. You can’t be conceding up the other end just as easy.

Subs Key For The Kingdom

But Kerry are Kerry. They rolled off their subs with ten minutes to go and similar to Dublin, that’s what got them over the line.

Dublin v Kerry Preview

Dublin v Kerry is the All-Ireland final every fan wants to see, we’ve been calling out for it the last couple of years.

Dessie Farrell is making big calls leaving Ciaran Kilkenny on the bench and coming on with fresh legs. But I don’t know if he’ll do that against Kerry and if I was in their camp, I’d want Kilkenny sitting on the bench. He matches up really well with a couple of their backs and I don’t think we’ll see the same personnel in the final.

So Dessie Farrell has a selection to make, but with a full squad that’s the headache he wants. He doesn’t want to have to put in a guy that he doesn’t know that well, or even a young lad, especially in an All-Ireland final. That’s the reason why the likes of Stephen Cluxton came back, these guys have that experience of the big games and that could be a telling factor in the final.

Benches Will Have Huge Say In All-Ireland Final

I think Kerry are favourites going into this one – they weren’t all that convincing in the semi-final, but neither were Dublin in the first half. So the benches will have a huge say in the final.

For all the odds going into this year’s All-Ireland Football Final check out our Dublin v Kerry odds post.

Click Below For All Our All-Ireland Odds 2023

All-Ireland Football Odds 2023

Connolly Analyses Footballer Of The Year Race

On the other hand if David Clifford has a quiet match, Dublin win and he isn’t crowned player of the year.

Dublin have a few strong candidates on their side – Paul Mannion has had a huge season, Cormac Costello has probably been Dublin’s best player to date and Colm Basquel has had great matches. John Small has been brilliant doing that man-marking role too, real unselfish stuff.

And if Brian Fenton and James McCarthy have big games in the final, you can see either of them picking up a player of the year award. So I wouldn’t just throw all my eggs into David Clifford’s basket, Michael Fitzsimons could have something to say about that in the final.

For our full rundown on the Footballer of the Year contenders going into this year’s All-Ireland Final check out our Footballer of the Year Odds post.

Click Below For All Our Footballer of the Year Odds

2023 Footballer of the Year Odds

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