Who will mark who? - Kevin Walsh picks match-ups for Galway v Kerry All-Ireland final 3 weeks ago

Who will mark who? - Kevin Walsh picks match-ups for Galway v Kerry All-Ireland final

"I think it's going to be hugely defensive."

Galway take on Kerry this Sunday in what will be their first All-Ireland final since 2001, and with so much on the line, it's important that both managers get their match-ups right.

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Kevin Walsh was starring in midfield the last time The Tribesmen lifted Sam Maguire, and has since went on to manage his county to provincial titles and an All-Ireland semi-final in 2018.

With his manager's hat back on, Walsh revealed to SportsJoe the match-ups that he's expecting to see this Sunday.

Tom O'Sullivan v Shane Walsh

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"The first one which will probably be a certainty is Tom O'Sullivan on Shane Walsh. When we were involved ourselves towards the latter end, he tended to pick up Shane Walsh. At that time he was a young lad coming through as well.

"He's sticky, tenacious and does a good man-marking job, and as well as that, he's added 'going forward' to his game, he's got a couple of points recently.

"Shane Walsh would be a big player for Galway as well, but he's been successfully stopped from having an impact in the last two games in Croke Park.

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"Galway are going to need to get him the ball more because of the talent that he has, but again he has to prove that he can do it on the bigger days, and Tom O'Sullivan will try and put him on the back foot as well, so he has got to be mindful of that."

David Moran vs Paul Conroy

"I do think Moran will probably pick up Conroy in midfield. I think they both press up pretty high on kick outs, so we will probably see a good few long kick outs on Sunday. The arial battle might become prominent.

"Moran is 34 and Conroy is 33, but Moran wouldn't have as much pace as Conroy and I don't know where his fitness levels are at.

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"I do think Moran will start. For me, against Mayo, he was maybe Man of the Match that day. I know Tom O'Sullivan got it, and deservedly so, but Moran was very good that day.

"He was quite good the last day, I know he dropped that bad ball through his hands, but that was tiredness maybe, and Costello went on and got a goal from that mistake, but he can't be defined by that, he's got massive experience."

Jack Barry vs Cillian McDaid

"I think Jack Barry will probably pick up McDaid to try and take his influence out. McDaid has obviously had massive impact on game, but again, was very quiet in the Armagh game until the scores came.

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"So I think that will be the match up there, and Diarmuid O'Connor will push up more."

Jack Foley vs Damien Comer

"I think Foley will pick up Comer. When it comes to Comer and Clifford though, their markers are both going to need help.

"It's not going to be a man to man shoot-out."

David Clifford vs Seán Kelly/Liam Silke

"I do think Liam Silke could pick up Clifford, or it could be Seán Kelly, I'm not so sure what they're going to do there.

"They could put Seán Kelly on him, and let Kelly still roam free as well, but for me it will definitely be one of those two guys."

Seán O'Shea vs John Daly/Liam Silke

"If Seán Kelly is on Clifford, then Liam Silke could push up to mark O'Shea, I could see that happening, and then allow John Daly to drop off and be a sweeper.

"Or else, John Daly goes directly on Seán O'Shea himself, and pushes up the field, he's done that before. Everything Comer got against Derry was delivered by John Daly."

How the game is going to pan out

"I think it's going to be hugely defensive, especially from Galway's side, after how they played against Derry.

"I don't want to see 15 behind the ball for the whole half because you need to put Kerry on the back foot as well, and at the same time be structurally strong in the defence.

"I just hope it's not 15 behind the ball for the whole first half, and I do believe that that kind of system will frustrate Kerry. We frustrated them in 2018, they only scored nine points from play until the 70th minute, and then I think they got a late toe-poke of a goal.

"They were really frustrated with that, and it's about getting that balance, being able to frustrate them and having something in attacks as well."

Final prediction

"I'm going to predict, on the basis that we beat them in 2018, and the u20s beat them in 2021 - Kerry were supposed to walk that game - and looking at Kerry losing out to a poor Cork team in 2020, then losing to Tyrone in '21 when they were expected to win it; looking at the last 15 minutes against Dublin, where they didn't take the chance of the penalty and conceded points - and let the opposition in the game - looking very nervy in the last 15 - so all of those things give Galway a serious chance on Sunday.

"It's important they don't stay too defensive all day and that there is an outlet there. There's a huge emphasis on kick outs as well.

"Kerry might have the height advantage for high balls if Galway are forced to kick out all the time, and I think our kick out strategy is slowish getting out, so I'm hoping we don't get caught in the air.

"On the back of history over the last five years, I'm going to tentatively give the go to Galway on this one. The only thing that is nerving me is  that I don't know the value of Armagh and Derry at the minute.

"They're two new teams that have come through, they're not a battle-hardened Tyrone or Donegal, so I don't know the value of those wins, and I think the outcome of this final will show the value of these upcoming teams compared to two or three years ago."