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Published: 09:43 | 24/8/16

Gavin expects tough battle

Dublin manager Jim Gavin expects a close battle when his team renew rivalry with Kerry in Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

The reigning All-Ireland champions have beaten Kerry in their last three championship clashes, while they also defeated Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side in the Allianz Football League Division 1 decider earlier this year, and they are the clear favourites to progress to the September 18 final.

Gavin is not interested in statistics and has warned his side they will have to be at their very best to overcome the Kingdom.

"They know, and we know, that there's a bounce of the ball between us. Some of the scorelines would reflect otherwise but that's the harsh reality of it," Gavin stated. "When you look at the strength in depth that they have in the squad now, they have grown this year.

"There's multiple All-Ireland winners in that squad and we are nowhere near that in this Dublin football team.

"Tadhg Morley and Brian Begley have come into the side, they look very composed. They still have their marquee forwards and outstanding players coming off the bench; Barry John Keane and Johnny Buckley. I could go on.

“James O'Donoghue is back, Colm Cooper will probably be back as well and Paul Geaney is back to great form. Darran O'Sullivan is injury-free and looks very fluid. Donnchadh Walsh is back to his best. . . I could go on and on about the quality of this Kerry side.

“So it's going to be a really tough game and a big challenge.”

Meanwhile, Kerry captain Bryan Sheehan has warned that his side are fired up and will be looking to end their losing streak against Dublin.

"I don't see how they can be hungrier. They are the All-Ireland champions. They beat us in 2013, 2015 and in the league final this year - if you haven't got more in the gut to win a breaking ball or track a run than what Dublin have then something is wrong with you," Sheehan is quoted as saying in the Irish Sun.

"We should be hungrier but that's easier said than done. I'm sure Dublin are going to be hungry. They don't like losing to Kerry. They don't want to be dethroned. They want to go for the two-in-a-row that hasn't been done since we did it in 2006-2007."

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