Ger Brennan says Ciarán Kilkenny must start for Dublin in Sunday's All-Ireland final while Darran O'Sullivan questioned Kerry's decision to promote Stephen O’Brien to their starting line-up.

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell has kept faith with the team that started the semi-final win over Monaghan, with Kilkenny again named on the bench.

However, it is expected Kilkenny will be drafted in before throw-in and his former team-mate Brennan feels Dublin need him influencing proceedings from the first whistle.

Two-time All-Ireland SFC winner Brennan told The Championship podcast: "If Ciarán is fit enough you have to start him. He’s been such an influential player over the last number of years. Every time he has come in during the last couple of games he has added value, no more than Stephen O’Brien coming at half-time the last day [against Derry].

"Sometimes you have to put your best foot forward. Trying to hold a few lads back, it’s obviously important to have some fresh legs and quality coming in for that last quarter of a game, but at the same time you have to pick what you have available.

"You’ve got to try and get your best XV out there and take the game to the opposition."

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Kilkenny has played the role of impact substitute on a number of occasions this season, including the wins over Mayo and Monaghan. Brennan questioned whether injuries were a factor in his bench role but has no qualms about starting him on Sunday.

Brennan said: "A fella of his quality, once the hunger is there, and I think it is there with Ciaran – in fact he might be hungrier again having not started the last couple of games – it’s a no-brainer. Start him. He’s a big-game player and has all the medals to prove it. He’s not fazed by the big occasions.

"Everyone would be surprised if he wasn’t to start."

Stephen O'Brien made a big impact against Derry

Kerry have made just one change to their starting team, with O’Brien rewarded for his performance when introduced against Derry. He comes in at wing-forward at the expense of Adrian Spillane.

O’Brien started last year’s All-Ireland final win over Galway but former Kerry forward O’Sullivan feels he is perhaps better suited to a substitute’s role.

"I was surprised by the change," said O’Sullivan. "I just thought, in terms of what we had on the bench, Stephen was best equipped to come on and make an impact.

"Tony Brosnan being ruled out is a big blow. You’d have a few worries about the strength in depth of the bench.

"For me, Stevo coming in signals Kerry’s intent to start on the front foot and with a high intensity. He is going to get stuck in.

"When I heard it first I thought, 'brilliant, that means they’re meaning push up on kickouts and try and force [Stephen] Cluxton to go long’, because Stevo adds that bit of tenacity around the middle.

"He’s good on the breaks, is hungry and works hard. I’m hoping it’s a sign of positivity on the Kerry front."

O’Sullivan and Brennan both predicted narrow victories for their former sides, while Mayo great Keith Higgins is backing Dublin to deny Kerry back-to-back All-Irelands.

Higgins said: "You look at the bench Dublin have, Jack McCaffrey to come on, Kilkenny too if he doesn’t start, Dean Rock. If Dublin could get a better defensive system in front of David Clifford, they might just have the firepower going forward.

"I’m edging slightly for Dublin."

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast on the RTÉ Radio Player, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts