Kerry and Galway clash at Croke Park on Sunday.
Kerry and Galway clash at Croke Park on Sunday.

Preview: All Ireland SFC Final - Kerry v Galway

Sunday July 24

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

Kerry v Galway, Croke Park, 3.30pm

Since Seán O'Shea's remarkable free just under a fortnight ago significant intrigue has surrounded the All-Ireland SFC final.

There will be no shortage of sub-plots and questions needing to be answered. Kerry haven't hoisted Sam Maguire since 2014, a first final appearance for Galway in 21 years.

Paddy Tally, who had a stint involved with Galway, is now with Kerry. Cian O'Neill previously coached the Kingdom and is now a prominent member of Pádraic Joyce's backroom.

By 3.32 or so on Sunday a few things should become clearer. Who will Galway designate to mark David Clifford and O'Shea?

What plan will Jack O'Connor have in place to restrict the influence of Shane Walsh and Damien Comer?

On All-Ireland final day heroes emerge, players deliver dynamic displays when the need is greatest for their county. That is most certainly the case because Kerry carry tradition and talent into this decider.

Galway, though, have a decorated history too with Joyce's leadership carrying importance. In the Galway football story Joyce remains a central figure.

A star of Galway's All-Ireland triumphs in 1998 and 2001, he stayed on the inter-county beat as a player until 2012.

In the intervening decade Galway endured some demoralising days, but under Kevin Walsh's stewardship respect was earned once more.

Joyce's third campaign in charge has seen emerging and established players blend together. Promotion was earned from Division Two of the Allianz Football League, while a Championship adventure was launched by beating rivals and neighbours Mayo in Castlebar.

In the opposite camp, though, Kerry will be heartened by the fact Dublin were eventually beaten at the penultimate stage.

So impressive while winning the Allianz Football League and Munster Championship, Kerry have done enough to defeat Mayo and Dublin at GAA headquarters.

With Clifford carrying a potent threat Kerry accumulated a healthy advantage in the Dublin game. After the restart, though, Dessie Farrell's charges thundered into the game.

Ultimately it required a splendid intervention from the classy Kenmare footballer O'Shea to guide the Kingdom home.

There has been plenty to admire about Kerry under O'Connor's direction. Tom O'Sullivan remains an influential figure, driving forward from deep to land seven points this summer. Graham O'Sullivan is another Kerry player, who has enjoyed a productive stint. 

Tadhg Morley's relevance to the Kerry cause protecting the full back line shouldn't be underestimated.

In attack O'Shea and the Cliffords continue to make an impact. The scores that trio provided were critical in the Dublin success.

It has been an encouraging three months for Galway. Captain Seán Kelly has led by example with Mountbellew-Moylough clubman John Daly an instrumental figure.

Paul Conroy and Cillian McDaid have enjoyed excellent moments, while Rob Finnerty, Walsh, and Comer, who was immense against Derry, have demonstrated their ability.

O'Connor has earned All-Ireland glory in his two previous stints as Kerry boss. Completing a hat-trick would represent a brilliant achievement.

Joyce, though, has carried out diligent work with Galway so the maroon and white team will believe too.

An intriguing contest edges closer.