Kerry and Tyrone defined the decade. Since 2000, they had hoovered up titles in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007 (Kerry) and 2003, 2005 (Tyrone). This led to Martin Breheny calling the 2008 final the "most decade-defining clash since Dublin v Kerry in the late 1970s".
2008 was the first final between two teams who had been beaten in their Provincial Championship. Kerry were reigning champions and were gunning for three-in-a-row. Tyrone had looked dead and buried after being knocked out of their Ulster quarter-final by Down after extra-time in a replay but had bounced back through the rear door.
Tyrone had beaten Wexford in their semi-final, while Kerry had beaten Cork after a replay in their semi-final.
Notes: J Devine was on the starting lineup but had to withdraw from the squad due to a family bereavement. Stephen O'Neill's name was not in the match program due to there only being space for thirty names. He played, and came on as a substitute with the number 31 on his back.
Paul Quinn's name was not in the match program due to there only being space for thirty names.