RTÉ analyst Ciarán Whelan is expecting a tactical game of "cat of mouse" in Sunday's All-Ireland final between Donegal and Kerry.

Can Donegal reach the same levels that saw them flatten the Dublin surge in the semi-final? And how Kerry will deal with the famed Jim McGuinness 'system' are just some of the sub-plots put forward by Whelan in his preview of the game.

"Donegal were superb against Dublin and the biggest challenge for them is to reach the same heights again," remarked the former midfield maestro.

"Dublin let them play and let them play to their optimum level.

"Eamonn Fitzmaurice will have learned a lot from that performance. Whether Donegal can reach that level again is the big question mark. If they do, then they can make life very difficult for Kerry."

Whelan added that their stunning semi-final success was a throwback to their "2012 levels".

If Donegal reproduce those levels on Sunday, Kerry's response will be crucial, with Whelan pondering how the likes of Kieran Donaghy and James O'Donoghue will be deployed.

"Obviously, the key decision in the selection is Kieran Donaghy at full-forward. It’s going to be interesting to see how Kerry utilise him in that role – whether he stays in there or whether he comes out.

"Likewise with James O’Donoghue. He’s the type of player who comes to the game rather than waiting for the game to go to him.  I can see him playing a deeper role also because we know Kerry have to change things.

"They can’t let their forward line get sucked in to the Donegal defensive system. We’re expecting something different from Eamonn Fitzmaurice."

The former Dublin player believes the Kingdom "will drop men back" and that they "won’t leave gaps in defence that Dublin left."

Overall, Whelan is expecting an element of "cat and mouse" to this year's decider.

"It will be very tight in the early stages and both teams will be sussing each other out," he added.

As to who will emerge victorious, the Dubliner is giving the slight nod to Donegal, saying: "Kerry are battle-hardened after two great games against Mayo.

"I’m expecting a big performance from them. However, when you weight up the strengths and weaknesses, Donegal have strengths in terms of the system they bring to it. Kerry are a bit weak in defence.

"I’m leaning towards a narrow Donegal win."

Donegal: The Road To The Final


 

Kerry: Path To The Final


Live coverage of Kerry v Donegal in the All-Ireland football final from 12.30pm on RTÉ2 (throw-in 3.30pm). Watch live on RTÉ Player (Ireland only) and worldwide via GAAGO. Live radio coverage from 2pm on RTÉ Radio 1.