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brennan's brief The odds are against Dubs to lift Sam Maguire, but who would bet against Dublin v Kerry final

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Dublin's Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny were the driving forces for their team during the recent O'Byrne Cup campaign as Dessie Farrell used 40 players. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Dublin's Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny were the driving forces for their team during the recent O'Byrne Cup campaign as Dessie Farrell used 40 players. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Dublin's Brian Fenton and Ciarán Kilkenny were the driving forces for their team during the recent O'Byrne Cup campaign as Dessie Farrell used 40 players. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

For the first time since the start of 2011, Dublin do not start the football year as the bookies’ favourite to lift the Sam Maguire Cup.

Back then, men like Ger Brennan, Bryan Cullen and Barry Cahill were key figures on a Dublin side that was struggling to make the All-Ireland breakthrough.

Since 2011, the Dubs have won all but three of the All-Irelands contested, yet they find themselves narrow second favourites to Kerry, 6/4 to 13/8, for 2022.

Mayo are next at 8/1 with champions Tyrone at 9/1. The fact that Tyrone are only fourth in the list, at such big odds, tells us that the bookies believe their success last year was a fluke.

Sorry if that offends supporters of the Red Hand, but that is all you can read into the odds. There’s no other way of putting it. For I can never remember reigning champions being such a huge price for the All-Ireland Football title.

If being told they are fourth favourites at 9/1 doesn’t light a fire under the Tyrone players and management, nothing will!

Dublin get going in the Allianz League on Saturday night with a match against Armagh in Croke Park. Under long-term manager Kieran McGeeney, Armagh will be a tough nut to crack.

They’ve been preparing assiduously for the League once they saw a schedule of Dublin (a) and Tyrone (h) for their first two games.

However Dublin have been doing things differently too. Instead of simply putting out a third team in the O’Byrne Cup, plenty of the Championship XV were in action as the Cup was won.

There were also some new boys who must take the places of the likes of the retired Philly McMahon and Kevin McManamon on the Dublin bench for the summer – at least.

Dublin boss Dessie Farrell will have looked at future fixtures too. And on Saturday week, he will take his team to Tralee for an early-season clash with the Kingdom under lights in Austin Stack Park.

The bookies tell us that game is a rehearsal for the All-Ireland Final. There’s a long way to go to the end of July, but would you bet against it being so?

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