Just 5 scintillating potential marking duels in the Crokes Corofin club final of dreams
By Aaron McNally
Just two teams left standing, only one can prevail.
Croke Park on Paddy's Day is where every club wants to be but only two can make it there every year.
After yet another year of brilliant club action filled with heartwarming underdog stories and some brilliant encounters, we are left with two of club football's best.
Defending champions Corofin take on the 2016 winners Dr Crokes in what promises to be a gripping contest containing two teams who have won five All Ireland's between them.
A game filled with a mixture of young, up and coming talents as well as experienced veterans, it promises some mouthwatering marking duels.
Here are five of the best to look out for come 3:45 pm on Sunday.
Michéal Lundy (Corofin 11) v Gavin White (Dr Crokes 6)
Lundy burst onto the Galway scene in 2014 and although it hasn't exactly been a barren spell recently for the Tribesmen, the majority of Lundy's success has come playing in the green and gold of Corofin.
The club has won seven of the last eight Galway club championships, also winning Connacht in four of those years.
As well as that they've won the All Ireland in two of those years and they have a chance to make that three on Paddy's Day.
Lundy is Corofin captain this year and is leading by example. He failed to score in the All Ireland semi but his game is more about providing than finishing.
A man who'll be attempting to curb his influence is Dr Crokes' centre back Gavin White.
White impressed in the championship last summer, earning himself an All-Star nomination.
The sprightly flyer likes to go forward and he will look to put Lundy on the back foot this weekend.
How this face-off goes will have a huge bearing on the result of the match itself.
Liam Silke (Corofin 2) v Tony Brosnan (Crokes 15)
Liam Silke is a great defender but his real strength is when he's on the attack, as he showed scoring this winning goal against Moorefield in last year's semi-final.
Great @CorofinGAA goal scored by Liam Silke set up by Ian Burke.
Alot off county forwards coaches could learn from this move and score. @BrianDonohoe5 @Ciaran20591 @moefitzpatrick @taaffesbar @TomasORuanaidh @Rory_Kid @RoyCurtis68 @cianjohnson13 @depboyle pic.twitter.com/XBpjRDePxy
— Paraic Farrelly 1 (@FarrellyParaic1) February 17, 2018
But Silke will have his hands full and might have to pull on the brakes in Croke Park this weekend with Tony Brosnan alongside him.
Brosnan has that special something that so many forwards from the Kingdom have. A Kerry minor in 2013, Brosnan came on as a sub in the All Ireland quarter final in 2016 before going off the radar in the last few years.
But now he's back and motoring for his club, absolutely tearing it up on their way to the All Ireland final.
Here he is scoring a brilliant point turning defenders inside out in the Munster final in November.
Beidh sé deacair stop a chur leis na Crócaigh. Tony Brosnan le cúilín iontach le linn Cluiche Ceannais @MunsterGAA @DrCrokesGAA look like contenders! Tony Brosnan with a super point v @MiltownGAA in yesterday’s #Munster final
Highlights @ 20.00 ar @SportTG4 @Kerry_Official pic.twitter.com/y3CTieSWZO
— GAA 2019 (@GAA_2019) November 26, 2018
Daithí Burke (Corofin 8) v Johnny Buckley (Crokes 9)
Just like every game, the midfield battle will be huge here. The winning of the ball will be crucial around the middle third as both teams will be looking to that to get a good platform for attack.
Daithí Burke is no stranger to Croke Park at all. He's no stranger to success at Croke Park either.
A winner of an All Ireland, two Leinster's and a minor All Ireland in the small ball code, Burke also has those two club football All Ireland medals to go along with all his hurling honours.
On Sunday, Burke could engage in what promises to be a titanic battle with Crokes' midfielder Johnny Buckley.
Buckley was sent off in the Kerry club's semi-final victory over Mullinlaghta but was cleared to play in the decider.
As the captain two years ago, Buckley has already tasted what it's like to lift the trophy on the Hogan stand. He will look to win this midfield battle and help get this year's captain John Payne to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup on Sunday evening.
Kieran Molloy (Corofin 7) v Micheál Burns (Crokes 10)
Kieran Molloy has played some amount of football over the last few years and once again he'll be an important piece of this Corofin jigsaw on Sunday. The westerners will need a big performance from him if they're to win their third All Ireland in five years here.
In the decider, he will lock horns with flying Crokes' wing forward Micheál Burns. This will be another fascinating matchup with Molloy marauding forward and Burns covering every blade.
Burns was the man of the match in Kerry's 2014 All Ireland minor victory and made his senior debut last spring, impressing for Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side in 2018.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) September 30, 2018
Corofin will be relying on Molloy's attacking presence but Crokes will hope Burns can give them more ammunition.
Yet another unreal duel to look forward to.
This is going to be some game.
Ian Burke (Corofin 15) v Fionn Fitzgerald (Crokes 2)
This could be one of the most important matchups of the game.
Fitzgerald captained the Kingdom to their last All Ireland title in 2014 and was also the skipper last year. But when new manager Peter Keane picked his squad for 2019, Fitzgerald was cut,
Going from the highs of captaining your county to not even being on the squad in such a short space of time must've been tough, but Fitzgerald is focusing on his club.
This weekend he could be marking one of the most dangerous and exciting forwards in the country.
That forward? Ian Burke.
Burke was brilliant for Galway last year, as well as for Corofin in their run to the decider and his movement in the inside forward line is outstanding.
Every ball that's kicked in sticks and then he proceeds to do the right thing most of the time and he's just a nightmare to defend against.
Fitzgerarld will have his work cut-out, and whoever wins this duel will more than likely be climbing the steps.
Along with these brilliant matchups, there's loads of other talent all around the pitch including the brilliant of experience of the likes of Eoin Brosnan, Kieran Fitzgerald and of course the great Colm 'the Gooch' Cooper.
It's going to be one heck of a match containing two of club football's royalty in what promises to be one of the great Paddy's Day finals.
Bring it on.