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Ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland Football final, RTÉ Publishing's Barry J Whyte continues his look back at some significant Kerry and Mayo encounters.

So far, this series has attempted to focus on classic matches. It hasn't always been easy. There have been some utter howlers between these two sides.

It is rather baffling, since both teams have always had their fair share of the best players in the country (some would argue an unfair share), yet they have tended, over the course of 70 years, to serve up duds.

It is impossible to say whether tomorrow's final will be a rare classic, or another dreary procession. History suggests a stinker, while the heart demands an epic.

Recent history is probably the best guide, since these players have met before. Indeed, they know each other quite well. This generation of Kerry and Mayo players, or at least some variation of it, has met in the 1995 All-Ireland Under-21 final, the 1996 All-Ireland senior semi-final and the 1997 All-Ireland Senior final. And they will meet again tomorrow in the 2006 All-Ireland final.

But none of these games – none of them – will match the sheer one-sidedness of the 2004 All-Ireland final. After a reasonably balanced opening 15 minutes, the game turned into a rout; at times most neutrals would have preferred to watch rabid dogs tearing through a chicken coop.

Kerry, steeled by defeats to Tyrone and Armagh in previous years, had remodelled their game. To their traditional game of stylish catch-and-kick football they added a dynamic workrate and no small amount of skulduggery. Meanwhile, Mayo seemed to be awe-struck by Croke Park.

Dara Ó Cinnéide's opener was added to by Marc Ó Sé before Ciaran McDonald took a ball on the sideline, shrugged off Eamon Fitzmaurice, and struck a beautiful point over the bar.

And rouse them it did as Dillon slipped in behind the Kerry backs to pick up the pass from the sideline before confidently tapping the goal past Diarmuid Murphy, much to the delight of the Mayo fans.

But Kerry were only briefly shaken and William Kirby got them back on the scoring track with a fine point. Then another for Ó Cinnéide. And another. And another. And yet another.

Then Gooch Cooper got in on the action.

15 minutes in and Kerry were 0-08 and Mayo were 1-01.

Two fine points by McDonald's were cancelled out by O'Sullivan and Cooper.

Then Cooper fielded brilliantly before embarking on a run through the Mayo defence, jinking this way and that, sending backs the wrong with way a deft bounce, before slipping the ball under Mayo 'keeper Peter Burke.

A pair of points from the ruthless Ó Cinnéide rounded off the half, with Kerry leading 1-12 to 1-04.

The slaughter continued after the break. Gooch, Kirby, Gooch again, Ó Cinnéide's eighth point of the match and a point from Paul Galvin were matched for Mayo by a Conor Mortimer free.

Mayo fans were flooding out of the ground, so there was little reaction to points for McDonald, Dillon and Andy Moran.

Not even a goal from Mayo substitute Michael Conroy could rouse the Connachtmen, or the dogged supporters that remained.

Mike Frank Russell finished the game with a score that, by now, no one was even watching. Kerry lifted Sam with a performance with all the passion and intensity of a training session. The final score, for what it is worth, was Kerry 1-20, Mayo 2-09.

It has been just two years since that match. Mayo's wounds are still raw. Kerry may be underestimating them. The scribes are waiting, pens dripping in anticipation, to write another chapter in the history of these two sides.