Breaking down the Dubs

How to beat the Dubs on Sunday week? That’s a thought that’s sure to be exercising plenty of minds at the minute and so I’m delighted to welcome Digits back into the guest slot to share some ideas on this topic.

Dublin Kerry pre-match parade 2013

Dublin, who were playing at their best, were lucky to beat a Kerry team playing at their best. Up until seventy minutes, including McManamon’s winning goal, Dublin got scores from the following:

  • Unforced errors by Kerry (pickups, dropped balls, suicide passes etc.): 0-5
  • Lucky breaks (e.g. shots dropping short, bouncing point etc.): 2-1
  • Excessively loose marking (on assist player): 0-2

Total scores from the above three categories come to 2-8.

Bad wides (i.e. sitters) are also relevant: Kerry had two more than Dublin.

Kerry were knackered after 50 minutes – they had old men who couldn’t keep up and started playing aimless high balls into Donaghy, allowing the Dubs more possession. Connolly, with a virtually impossible free near the sideline on the 13, was allowed to take this free 10 yards closer to the goal to kick equalising point. And of course, the biggie – neither Jonny Cooper nor Philly McMahon were given their second yellow card with 15 minutes left after a foot trip and kick in the head on Gooch respectively.

With all those factors taken into account, with the match level on 70 minutes, that’s a 14-point swing to Dublin, plus not being a man down. Even if they only got half the luck, that’s still an extra 7 points that Dublin shouldn’t have had at 70 minutes. And that was Dublin playing at their best.

Analysis of Dublin play

The way to beat any opponent is negate their strengths and exploit their weaknesses. Dublin most regularly operate with a two-man full-forward line of Brogan and Mannion – Paddy Andrews comes out around the middle, which leaves more space inside. They have obvious speed in McCaffrey, Macauley, Connolly and O’Sullivan, when they are let run in STRAIGHT LINES. Connolly, Flynn and also Andrews play key roles in linking the play from defence to attack. Flynn is excellent at tracking back – the rest of their forwards aren’t really.

Defence can often be loose and sometimes undisciplined in the tackle, particularly Ger Brennan. They do not appreciate attackers running at them. They operate man-to-man, which leaves a big gap in and around the parallelogram. This can be exploited by runners. However, hold-ups back the pitch will, contrary to popular belief, mean they will funnel 13 men back into their half.

Cluxton’s accurate kickouts start their attacks, and require a man to be free.

To stop Dublin’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses, Mayo will need to:

  • Go man-to-man on kick outs. Splitting players is no good as they are too accurate.
  • Run at their defence.
  • Have a runner off the shoulder to break through for a goal, if our full forward line gets ball inside.
  • Don’t hold up the play, work it smartly up the pitch
  • Tight marking, especially on Flynn, Andrews and Connolly. Curb their influence and Dublin won’t get the ball inside to Brogan easily.
  • Don’t pick up needless yellows, red cards could be fatal to either side.
  • Don’t foul within the 45. Cluxton is more likely to score a free than Dublin are to score from play (45% average in last 3 games). Take the risk.
  • When they are running at us, hold them up as much as possible without fouling in order to enable us to put a man directly in the runner’s path. When we don’t have the ball, Keith Higgins could be crucial in this regard, to sweep back. 45-45 performance needed from him.
  • Get the match ups right to enable us to do above.

My match-ups would be:

McCaffrey – McLoughlin:  McLoughlin has the nous and the speed to watch McCaffrey, and the guile to outwit him. McCaffrey also packs less of a tackle, which is important for a smaller man like McLoughlin.

Brennan/O’Sullivan – Dillon:  Loose marking = playermaker heaven. Also doesn’t go forward too much so less tracking back to do for older legs.

McCarthy – Higgins: Higgins will need to be 45-45, and McCarthy, while solid, isn’t Dublin’s biggest threat. Therefore Higgins nominally here.

Connolly – Keegan: Can mark tightly and rile up Connolly. Has the physique to match Connolly and Connolly won’t relish tracking Keegan all day. Will leave Connolly further from goal where he can’t cause damage.

Kilkenny – Vaughan: Kilkenny is overrated, but since Vaughan is loose, could be a risk. However, it works both ways as Kilkenny will be loose when Vaughan goes forward. See how this one develops and act accordingly.

Flynn – Boyle: Needs to be stuck to like glue, and tackled properly. Boyle is the man for this challenge and will get stuck in on him whether it’s in defence or if Flynn is trying to collect a short kickout.

Brogan – Cunniffe: I’ve gone for Cunniffe as Cafferkey is playing poorly and didn’t play well on him in most recent encounters. Cunniffe can match him for physique and Brogan won’t track him if Cunniffe bombs forward.

Mannion – Cafferkey: Mannion always stays in close to goal, and, while a tidy footballer, is inexperienced. This suits Cafferkey who, if he plays well and stays on Mannion’s left foot, should be able to break him.

Andrews – Barrett: Barrett is a tenacious man-marker who is also good at winning breaking ball. Will be good for following Andrews out around the middle, especially since we know he can break forward as well.

None of this mentions the midfield battle. The O’Sheas just need to outperform Macauley and O’Sullivan/Bastick, simple as. Tight on their kickouts, supreme on ours, link the play, stop Dublin running out of defence.

As for our full-forward line, Freeman is the only known – it’s unknown what combination of O’Connor, Moran, Conroy, Doherty, Varley or Coen will play. I’d be tempted to start Moran and O’Connor and sub them when necessary, even if this is early. Be out in front, receive the ball cleanly, give it to a runner or make a move, drift away and bang it over the bar. That’s what needs to be done, regardless of who is there. As for the frees, who knows?

Variables and conclusion

Regards the Dublin bench, if Rock comes on, Cafferkey should take him, as he’s not very mobile. If McManamon comes on, Barrett should take him. On the Mayo bench, Carolan and Feeney as well as Conroy (if he is not starting) should be certain to come on. Barry Moran and Shane McHale have also played well the last three times we played Dublin and could be in line for an appearance.

James Horan on the line needs to adapt, see problems before they happen and engage in real-time problem solving like there’s no tomorrow. And make changes that force the Dubs on the back foot and have them to think about how they are going to cope with us, and not the other way around.

As for the fans, we need to outshout the Dubs, fly our flags in a sea of green and red, not only silence but take the Hill and influence the sideline officials as much as possible.

Mayo have it within them to beat Dublin, and vice versa. If Mayo get it right tactically and perform on the day, then we should come out as All-Ireland Champions. There is no alternative.

62 thoughts on “Breaking down the Dubs

  1. Thanks for the post WJ. Looking at the piece in hindsight, perhaps it was unfair of me to say Cafferkey is playing poorly – rather he isn’t hitting the same heights as last year. For example, I attributed around 8 of Tyrone’s scores to plays involving Caff. He is still of course a top-class full back and has done plenty of good things this year – guess I was being a bit finicky there.

  2. Great stuff Digits, enjoyed that, as will the Dubs who might be coming in for a peek…no harm. Here is something that might surprise a few, I was chatting to one of the lads and I asked him who is the fastest from a standing start over 5-10 yards….He said Keegan and Caff…

  3. I would go with Caff on Brogan, he knows how he operates and did ok on him last year.
    Cunniffe would have the speed for Mannion and young Mannion will think only of Peter Harte when he sees Cunniffe coming towards him!

    The other match ups look ok, the forwards prob won’t have a say on who’s marking them.

    Also very important – Dublin may have a new trick up their sleeve in a bid to unsettle Mayo early on ala Donegal last year. WE MUST BE READY….

  4. A good piece but I certainly don’t agree that Ciarán Kilkenny is overrated. He’s a seriously quality player, whoever is on him needs to he on top of their game.

    Ud hear lots about our forwards having to perform but where I think this game will be won for Mayo is in defence. We have the potential to really nullify a good attack but our defence were only ok against Tyrone. We will require a marked improvement from our defence..if they play out of their skins I think we can do it.

  5. I also think a very physical but disciplined approach is required. The old mantra of ‘our full forward line..first line of defence’ will be key to success. I hope we perform to our best..and an almost manic hunger will drive us over the line.

    We can do it!!!

  6. Good piece, Digits. However, I don’t think Mayo will go man to man as taking on Dublin in a shoot out would be risky.
    I believe they will drop Higgins back, and that it will be Higgins who picks up Brogan.
    I have always thought that if you stop Brogan, you stop Dublin. Nothing I have seen has made think otherwise, though Dublin are a little less reliant on him this year.
    If he doesn’t play well in the final, it’d be very surprising if Mayo didn’t win.
    After that, I think a lot of your other match ups are spot on. However, I’d think Caff will take Andrews/Rock, in terms of physique alone.
    I believe Cunniffe could easily play at centre half back, leaving Barrett to take Mannion and Vaughan as the loose player.
    Higgins is too valuable a defender not to have on Brogan. Kilkenny could flourish if left isolated, as he did against Meath. Either Keegan or Cunniffe could mark him, leaving Donie to act as a sweeper or push in between midfield and the half backs.
    As I said before, I don’t think James will allow a shoot out, i.e. 15 on 15. Dublin forwards and sharp shooters are better than Mayo in that regard. Mayo have an overall better team which would be better utilised as I have outlined.
    I’m sure EVERYONE will be in total agreement…..!

  7. I still have a few worries except for having no ticket.

    Caff worries me slightly , semi final last year Brogan caught a clean ball one on one near the end and would of scored only for Clarkes heroics. caff also got caught out a few times along with Keane in league semi, I know Keane won’t start this time, it still doesn’t hide the fact we are sus under a direct high ball.I thought Roscommon would test us in the championship with senan Kilbride with that tactic but Kilbride was out of steam from brigids campaign.

    I’m also not as cock sure as a lot are, about the o Sheas being a shoe in to win midfield.MDM killed centre field for the last twenty mins last year.

    When we went to Salthill in may , we drove on like men on a mission , we were relentless in the tackle . Ross game our intensity seemed to drop slightly and London game too, we went hell for leather v Donegal again Salthillesque and then Tyrone game we went back into a shell for the first thirty mins.

    My main point is , I just hope we can bring the intensity levels we showed in Galway and Donegal games and I truly believe we are in with a very realistic chance of winning.

  8. Very good piece digit..
    i think rock will start for the Dubs but ive got a bad feeling about kilkenny his pace is very good and he is due a big game i hope its against louth next year..anyway ive only to wait 6more days until i get home cant wait ..

  9. [Deleted] Kilkenny is in no way over-rated. Arguably the best young forward in Ireland. What Mayo would give to have a centre-forward like him.

  10. Very good piece Digits, maybe under rating Kilkenny a little bit. When on form he is a very dangerous player. I see him and Connolly being big threats to us.

    I think the winning of this game will come down to our ability to stem any period of dominance Dublin may get, ie they score a goal and/or a few points in a row thus giving them confidence and belief. We have to be able to break any momentum they may get during the game. Too often teams have being doing well against the dubs when all of a sudden they get hit with a Dublin goal/few points and from then on it is an uphill battle. That, along with pressure on their kick outs and stopping their runs from deep should be enough to see us take Sam home.

  11. IMO peewee has hit it on the head in that Kilkenny can be very dangerous when he is on form. Tidy footballer, two good feet and an eye for a pass, sure. In several years time he could be a top class footballer. But he’s not playing at a top class level just yet. He can drift in and out of games, and when he’s not on form, and when he’s tightly marked, he can be very anonymous. As he was against Kerry. He also has a poor shot selection. Seen him in the flesh several times, notably in the U21 All Ireland Final against the Rossies a while back, and for all the talk about him, he didn’t stand out.

  12. @ Horan’s Brigade I’d be concerned of he was marking Andrews that Andrews would drag him all around the field. Caff does his best work close to goal, although I know he often played CHB at underage. If Rock does start, then Caff should be on him, yes.

  13. Now, once more I will make a point that nobody seems to heed. I have preached this to deaf ears all year.
    WE NEED ‘COVER’ BEHIND THE FULL BACK LINE, especially against the Dubs. They scored two goals against us in the league, no cover!!! Donegal last year got two goals, no cover!!! It’s not fucking rocket science.
    How often have one of our backs slipped and his man is gone?? It has happened to even Keith Higgins. With the speed in the forwards that the Dubs have, they will crucify us if that happens. We need the cover at all times; it doesn’t matter who it is or how often he is changed, we need someone back.
    The Dubs create a huge amount of goal chances, fact. If they score them it’s bye bye Sam!!!!

  14. “As for our full-forward line, Freeman is the only known – it’s unknown what combination of O’Connor, Moran, Conroy, Doherty, Varley or Coen will play. I’d be tempted to start Moran and O’Connor and sub them when necessary, even if this is early. Be out in front, receive the ball cleanly, give it to a runner or make a move, drift away and bang it over the bar. That’s what needs to be done, regardless of who is there. As for the frees, who knows?”

    I see a problem with this analysis , not been rude to you and no disrespect to Andy in what im saying here but if you’re looking for corner men to be out in front collecting ball, Andy has been sluggish and off the pace in this regard.

    I’d go with Conroy and Cillian with freeman remaining on the square . Conroy is the man who could disrupt the Dublin fb line being out in front, he IMO is the real deal to cause havoc in there .

  15. Very good article Digits, I think the key area in this game is the interaction between our full forward line and their full back line. IMO the Dublin full back line is the weakest line for them. I agree with other contributors in saying that Conroy can have a positive contribution, would one drop Moran instead of him. I am still in two minds on this. This is working on the premise that O’Connor will start. If O’Connor does not start then i feel Conroy, Freeman and Moran will lead the line. Either way, really looking forward to the week ahead

  16. @ Sean Burke – Let’s not forget we’ve only seen 20 mins of Conroy this summer. But based on those 20 minutes against Tyrone, Conroy was certainly better. But if we go by that logic then Andy shouldn’t play at all. If he’s not fit enough for the start, he’s not fit enough for the finish. Considering his leadership and big-match temperament, I’d be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but wouldn’t hesitate to call him ashore if he wasn’t providing what needed to be provided.

    I’m also considering the somewhat likely possibility of O’Connor either not playing or having to leave the field early. It wouldn’t be good to find out having subbed Moran on for O’Connor to find that he wasn’t fit enough to last the pace of the game and have to be subbed again. I’d prefer to know after 15 minutes whether he was up to it rather than hoping he would be if he came on with 15 to go.

    @ Joe Mc – I would envisage with Aidan or Seamie O’Shea and Higgins going back when we don’t have the ball and taking a man, allowing another defender to drop back to mind the house. It will have to be fluid, but good players can achieve this. But if you sacrifice a man to stay in the full back line, you will allow Dublin to have a man over up the pitch, which will mean they also have a man over, not just to defend, but to attack with.

    On the flip side, we know that Dublin struggle to win if they can’t score goals. So personally I would be agree with you to be cautious for the first 10 minutes, and see where we are. There will be a lot of sizing up done in the first 10 minutes. Then think on our feet.

  17. I’m not very strong on Andy either way as I’m not sure , we all know if he hit 2011 and 12 till down game form , he s one of the best in the country never mind county but we have to be honest here he’s half a yard behind this year.

    Conroy had a very good league campaign and the night game v Dublin I seem to remember him getting out in front a lot. I just have this feeling he could be the ideal man to cause real problems for Dublin fb line, he’s a right little bull when he gets going.

  18. I think Conroy has to start,Andy not up to the pace so far this year,I know he’s our captain but we cannot afford to be carrying anybody against Dublin.Kerry showed how to score goals against them and I don’t think there is a man from 1 to 9 on the Dublin that would make the Mayo team.Conroy has the pace and the trickery to really upset the Dublin defence.He might not get many scores himself but he will draw plenty of fouls in very kickable positions.I cannot see our free taking been that poor again.When the going gets tough with 10-15 mins left we have great lads to bring in,Barry Moran,Carolin,Andy( to give the team and us a lift),Richie Feeney who I think if was brought in earlier last year would have seen us beat Donegal.Get the flags ready and spare the voice till the 22nd then sicken the dubs with the chants of Mayo Mayo as our lads come out of the tunnel.With the help of our great supporters this best Mayo team ever can do it,Maigheo Abu

  19. @Digits- good point about them having an extra man to attack but if he doesn’t score a goal, he wouldn’t be that effective. It’s all swings and roundabouts. I still feel it is of the utmost importance to stop them scoring goals. Everyone talks about the forwards but our backs score as much. Defence is also very critical. Two goals, Mayo have to score 6 points.
    As I said, It’s all swings and roundabouts.

  20. @Pacar – “I don’t think there is a man from 1 to 9 on the Dublin that would make the Mayo team”.
    I don’t know; Jesus, Dublin are not that bad. Are there red and green tinted glasses being used, I wonder.

  21. Good piece Digits

    Overall I have three points to make:

    1. We suffered against Dublin in the last 20 minutes last year because Keegan dislocated his finger and Kevin Mc got a kick in the head. We lost our rythym and our momentum. Kevin was one of out best players in 2012. Dublin don’t put in high balls they put in quick foot passes to forwards creating space for themselves so I also see Caff playing closer to the square to protect the goalkeeper
    2. We weren’t playing as badly as everyone makes out in the first 25 minutes against Tyrone. COC’s injury unsettled us as well as Tyrone. We had 5 wides and 3 dropped short. Enda Varley didn’t settle in for COC until the second half and he was responsible for three of those 8. If half of them went over we wouldn’t havent given it a second thought.
    3. I can see Andy starting and for three very good reasons: he’s the captain and leader on the pitch; he retains the ball and uses it.wisely; his ability to see space for COC, Freeman and Dillon will be key.

    I honestly believe that our movement in the forwards will not only bring us frees and points from play but at least half a dozen proper goal chances and the interplay between Andy, Alan D and COC is key to that

  22. Brogan is the key! He is a superb player and if he is on form he can destroy the best defenders. I watched our last three games v Dubs and he was hugely influential. He annihilated Caff in the league match and I wouldn’t put Caff on him again. What is needed is the following:
    1. Keep the ball up the other end of the field as much as possible( dominate the middle third)
    2. Huge pressure on kickers or runners who might supply good possession
    3. A marker who is capable and confident enough to play him from the front and win the ball rather than giving him possession and trying to keep him out (Barrett, Cuniffe or Keith)
    Deal with Brogan and we are half way there – the other half we are well capable of dealing with despite the fact that the other Dublin forwards are also very dangerous – but he is the key.
    At the other end of the field I don’t know hat to say except that Conoy should start regardless of who is fit or not.

  23. Firstly Mayo can win or lose this. That is agreed Id say.

    How then do we win… Our best backs need to play in the backs. Higgins is one of them.
    This would leave Cunniffe or Barrett free. Barrett not a chb ,Cuniffe could be. Vaughan could sweep ..he does anyway.
    Agree actually Kilkenny overrated. Also think Brogan is key but I fear Rock too. He is good with the ball but lazy off it.
    Lastly Andy should be sub unless he has improved massively since the Tyrone game which I doubt. Conroy or Carolan for me.

    Only opinions- overall confidence is the key. Winning midfield vital. Hennelly will have to be vocal and he usually is.

    Think minors will struggle- they are too dependent on goals.

  24. Lots of interesting points being made in relation to this post.

    As always I think possession is king in this game. I think Dublin will be fearful of Mayo’s aerial strength and will be happy to break even here. They’ll focus the majority of their efforts on moving the ball as quickly as possible from kick-outs and try to exploit overlaps. There’s nothing new in this but I believe if Mayo can really pressure Cluxton we could put an enormous dent in their gameplay. He looked genuinely uneasy against Kerry at times and if we can replicate the intensity of our pressing game (as against Galway) I think we’ll have taken a huge step towards turning them over.

  25. We cannot concede a goal in the first 15 minutes. We just cannot. The Dubs create more goal chances than any other team. I think we have to be ultra defensive for the first 10/15 minutes given our recent history in AL finals. We cannot go 1 on 1 at the back at any time in fact. We have kept it very tight at the back all year. We need to do the same and more for the final. Let’s keep it low scoring if we have to.

    ABSOLUTELY NO CONCESSION OF AN EARLY GOAL and then let’s take it from there.

  26. only thing to catch the dubs is blanket defence if bb thats bernard brogan is surround by mayo players he cant get the goals what do ye think

  27. cat – as I said, cover at the back. We needn’t have a blanket defence. Mayo play attacking football, we could still do that.

  28. Andy Moran cannot start this game unless he is 100% fit. There is absolutely no room for sentiment in a final, just ask Warren Gatland and Brian O’Driscoll. He maybe the captain but all he seems to do out on the pitch is shout and point his finger, the lads are well experienced now and know what they have to do,that cannot be eneough to retain a starting place in an All Ireland final. He lost out on so many easy balls in the Donegal and Tyrone games, sometimes he had a yard or two head start on his marker, and they still beat him to the ball, Andy just was left sprawling for the ball on the ground on too many occasions, that it was simply embarrasing for the lad. If he starts and the same is happening, where balls kicked into him are just being mopped up by defenders, their will be too much damage done by these counter attacks and the Dubs could be realistically out of sight before he is called ashore.

    I hate been harsh on Andy because he is a fantastic footballer, its a pity he is just not back to full fitness, and im sure he will discover his form and pace for next year after a good solid winter schedule behind him, but this one should be left to Conroy, he destroyed the Dubs last year, and can do the same on the 22nd, only thing is wether JH has the balls to make the call and start him instead of Andy. For our sake i hope to God he does.

  29. Joe Mc

    Yes I have every confidence that Cillian will play


    I don’t think an early goal against us will make much difference. I can easily see 5 or 6 goals in this game. Donegal last year scored their goals early and then parked the bus. If Dublin score an early goal they will try to score more up until full time. You may see the highest scoring final in years

  30. Joe Mc- Kerry scored 3-11 against them.Dublin only won it in the last three minutes.Three men stood off them and let them in for an easy goal.There was no way Dublin were 7 points the better team with or without the glasses.Have faith Joe,this is our year

  31. Horan will be quick to make early positional changes in the defense if required. I wouldn’t rule out Ger starting on Brogan. We all know that we can’t allow the opposition to be out of sight within the first 15mins like in our last few finals, and with Dublin likely to probe our back line for weaknesses in the opening quarter by trying a combination of high and low balls, Ger has the height to best deal with Brogan during this opening period. However, I still have my concerns about our ability to keep the goals out against that Dublin forward line over the full 70+ mins.

  32. Jaysus lads, looks like the Dubs should stay at home next sunday according to this! If memory serves me right Mr Brogan scored 1-10 in the league fixture early this year….

  33. Great piece Digits.
    I agree with alot of posts saying that Conroy should start, he can win any ball going into him and I think Andy should be on the bench from what we saw against Tyrone, he has lost pace and we need pace against Dublin. Also, Conroy will get fouled and we need Cillian there to point the frees. I also hope that Horan will call ashore any player not playing well after 10/15 minutes and bring in a sub, McLoughlin should have been taken off against Tyrone and Dillion has played in two All Ireland finals and never played well IMO. Our management will have to have a good game too to win Sam!!

  34. Great analysis digits. I don’t agree with your cursory approach to midfield though. IMO Dublin won midfield and MD McCauley romped through on the Kerry backs several times unapposed. McManamon did the same to change the game at the death. Midfield is the key, cutting off supply to the forwards and stopping the follow through. Dublin midfield are wasteful and missed several opportunities Kerry would have taken, that may not happen again. Kerry’s legs were gone in the backs for the last 20 minutes but they had absorbed wave after wave for 50 minutes.

    Our guys are more than a match for whoever feature in midfield for Dublin. Seamus O’Shea has been playing out of his skin. Aidan will be player of the year. It’s going to be some game. I can’t wait.

  35. Have to agree with starting Conroy, however I do have a soft spot for Andy so my heart is saying he was minding himself until the final!! Dillon on form all over the place, Varley should be left on the bench. Freeman for the frees but I think CIllian will be ok. I think they have learned their lesson with Tyrone and will be on form from the start.

  36. Brogan’s cleaned Caff out a few times so I think Cunniffe is the man for the job with Higgins dropping back as cover. Hopefully COC starts but Conroy simply HAS to start. 3 points last year and fouled for 3 more and generally caused mayhem for Cian O Sullivan. Also he’s consistently been a thorn in Dublin’s side in recent games. Believe it or not we had 1 major problem against Donegal. The majority of our scores came from running at/through Donegal, this won’t work against the Dubs. We had no pace inside and at times looked ponderous with no runner in the ff line. Conroy was exactly what was missing and his cameo in the semi shows what a threat he can pose. Pacar – rubbish about Dublin’s 1-9, also with or without Feeney Mayo just wouldn’t have beaten Donegal on the day. We were always kept at arms length and never threatened the net

  37. Great piece Digits ;A real action plan! Lots of interesting comments on matchups etc which I dont feel qualified to comment on.
    in general I would remark that.
    Our attempts to convince ourselves that that certain Dublin players may not be up to the task is evidence of our unease, understandable..not true though.. I would rather concentrate on the fact that we have a panel of players and a style on play which has blown away anything which has been in front of us since salthill Carolan, Feeney, B Moran although not likely to start are worthy parts of this machine.and will make a difference when they enter the fray. Mayo will bring an experience to Dublin of a new order, these boys are not going home without the Big Cup and neither are we!

  38. Fatty boom batty – I honestly do not understand how you can be so confidant that
    Cillian will play, and if he does how long will he last? Nobody knows this so it is only wishful thinking.

  39. Pacar – I’d agree that Dublin were not 7 points a better team. They were not. But the Dublin backs – they were playing against one of the best forwards of all times, the Gooch. Very few defences in the Country could contain the Gooch. He still is sheer class, his passing was out of this world and his vision is awesome.

  40. Very interesting points been raised and there will be a lot of unknowns until the day itself. As we all know now at this stage James isn’t one for making many changes so I expect to see Moran playing.. I honestly feel if we are to win this game we have to push up on Dublin by moving Higgins to the half forwards with an all out attack and dominate possession.. its a risk I know leaving one on one at the back but we have to trust our system.. we have to trust our goal keeper and full back line and more importantly we have to be able to trust that this team is experienced enough now to read the game.

    What I mean by this is.. If per say SOS, Vaughan, Mcloughlin and Higgins are caught in possession deep in enemy territory and are struggling to get back, SOS and others need to have already dropped back to act as sweeper, hold up play or even drift back past Caff if necessary.

    The attacks can come from any combination of players as we’ve seen with Barrett which is incredibly difficult to defend against.. but for it to work we need to set out our stall as all out attack and not sit back and go all defensive bringing Dubli on to us.. put the Jackeens on their back foot or on their arses all the better as we run at them..

    by all means we need to be vigilant of break down in plays and any player not involved fill in for the player caught out of position.. but this is the All Ireland Final for ***k sake why would we now be setting up defensively.. because of past mistakes.. or because we are afraid to trust in ourselves and our players.. Mayo ran at Donegal and how many times did we see SOS in the big square.. he will need to be there again the next day.. but do not be afraid, put your trust in this team and above all BELIEVE

    Maigheo Abu

  41. Over analysis lads … lets calm down.
    We have the best team … lets calm down a second time !
    It’s very simple. We just have to take care of Cluxton, McAuley & Brogan & we’re home.
    Full court press on Cluxton’s kickouts, pressure on McAuley when in possession, then we don’t have Brogan getting any usable possession.
    We have the best team & that does matter.
    Sam Maguire has no conscience & will go with whoever snatches him.
    We just have to let this play out & then snatch Sam Maguire.
    This has nothing to do with curses or long waits … it only has to do with snatching Sam Maguire. No reason why Mayo can’t be the best snatchers !

  42. I’ve watched last years semi against the dubs a few times and though this may sound stupid, I think that due to the low angle of the sun in croker, which was in our faces, may have been a problem in the second half. Now it did not have a huge effect but it was IMO definitely the reason Caff got caught under that high ball against BB………….A dry day suits our play but here’s hoping that it’s dry but overcast.
    Good thread Digits and I agree about Andy starting…………his influence was sorely missed in last years final, I disagree about Caff, he has a great head for reading the game and he never strays far from home.
    I also think that if we manage to keep MMD, Connolly and Mc Manamon quiet then BB and co will not get the service they need and will have to come deeper .
    As also mentioned above I think this will be a very high scoring game……………………………….(In a dream last week the final score was 6-23 to 2-15 and I woke up happy ) now that’s even beyond the most green and red binoculars but I do think they will get a goal or two even though we have only let 1 in till now in this campaign (and that in the dying seconds when the contest was over) but when looking at both styles and defenses, I think they will leak more.
    All we need to take with us is the belief that this Mayo is different, better and it’s those who face us are the ones to do the fearing………………………..We may have died with the boots on last year but a resurrection has occurred and we’re ready to kick arse with those same boots now.
    Críost Linn agus MaighEo Abú

  43. 10 days to go. For me, cutting off feed to Brogan is important. If he cuts back to receive there is no way his marker can stop him collecting without a foul. JH will have a plan.

    What I have found interesting is that posts have focused on how we will try to stop the Dublin front line. From the games I’ve seen they must be having nightmares thinking how to stop everything in green and red from scoring. While respecting this Dublin team I have total faith in our backs, midfield and forwards. We may see something to remember

  44. @Digits….it’s always hard when one puts their opinions out there, only for them to be picked apart by the faithful, so I admire your courage.
    I always love these types of contributions because sure as hell, there will be plenty who will offer an alternate opinion. And that’s what makes this fun and engaging.
    What makes this Mach up really difficult to call is, the match ups! You went through some of them there, and I agree with you for the most part. Ger is not playing his best this year but maybe he’s got one more big game this year? If he’s on BB, he will need his A game as Brogan is waking up and could be a massive influence in this match. I just don’t know if Ger has the speed to deny him, ala semi last year, where he was badly caught, and as JPM said, Clarkeen mad a massive save to deny Brogan and by extension Dublins comeback.
    We have the players, when they play collectively, as a unit, to out hussle and out smart the Dublin lads. However we are going to have to get our KEY individual match-ups right. I believe those are, full back, center back and full forward.
    And again as JPM said, we must be ready for a Dublin attempt for an early blitz, for they will look to score goals to kill us off early. If we’re not ready for that, then I’m afraid we’re not ready to be champions.

    @ nycgreenandred, when do you fly out and from what airport ?

  45. Some interesting analysis of the big match on display here. More than a bit of wishful thinking, but some of the comments are more balanced.

    Firstly, I don’t think that we can say we will win if we simply take care of 2 or 3 of Dublin’s players. They have quite a few quality players but, much like Mayo, their system is also hard to stop. They have runners coming from everywhere with serious pace throughout the team. They have at least 4 forwards who could prove to be match winners if they are let. They have a mobile, strong running, pacey midfield. Their defence is better than they get credit for, but often looks weak because their system means going man to man – and any defender will struggle man to man if there is space around them. In short, their system is to attack, attack, attack. Attack from everwhere. Play fast ball inside, or, more often than not, utilise runners and overlaps from deep to poke holes in a defence and get 2 on 1 situations as often as possible. If this doesn’t work, they have plenty of players who can kick scores from 30m+.

    Mayo, on the other hand, set up slightly differently. They have a similar system of attack whereby their biggest strength is their constant breaking of the line with runners from deep creating overlaps and 2 on 1 chances. The inside forwards rarely win primary ball with back to goal, turn, take on a man and score. What they do really well is make space for players who are coming through and then be in a position to score from the secondary ball. The are also very capable at winning primary ball and recycling it until the smart shot can be taken. More than any of this, though, the forwards work incredibly hard at turning over the ball and they are excellent on putting pressure on the man coming out from defense. At the back Mayo play an effective system. If the opposing attacker holds onto the ball for more than two or three seconds then support and cover will almost always appear and the defense are very good at crowding out attacks and forcing the play out the field, or else forcing a low percentage shot under pressure. Mayo’s midfield is very strong at breaking up play and winning clean and dirty ball around the middle third. They are less of a threat at going forward.

    In terms of the actual game, I can’t see Horan making many changes. If O’Connor makes it then fair play to the lad but I just can’t see it happening, and if it does, can he really last long enough to make a telling contribution? I’m not sure about that. For me, I’d start Moran and Conroy in the corners. Moran is a leader, out and out. His game is suffering this year but he is intelligent and experienced enough and I really think that an A-I final could bring out the best in him. Freeman stays at FF but must not be constantly hit with long ball. ROC will eat that up and Freeman’s game will really suffer because of it. He needs the ball played to suit his runs so that he can turn and get a run at ROC. 1 on 1 he is lethal at taking a man on but it can’t be with his back to goal. He is also a great finisher so if a 2 on 1 presents itself then he needs to be given the ball. Often times this year he hasn’t been when a clear goal chance has been on.

    I can see the Dublin Half Back line and Mayo HF line just about breaking even. If Higgins starts there then he will probably act as a sweeper first and foremost and as a support runner secondly. I think Kevin Mc could have a huge game. I almost got a sense that he was really holding back in the SF and I think that his battle with McCaffery will be very interesting. Dillon is a seasoned campaigner and will look to pull the strings around there.

    At the back I’d have Caff on Brogan, Cunniffe on Andrews/Rock and Barrett on Mannion. They need lots of cover here and I can see the half backs and half forwards supplying that when needs be.

    In the HB line, the lads need to push on all day long. Vaughan on Kilkenny seems like a perfect match. Kilkenny really isn’t as quick as some of his colleagues but he is a nice player. Vaughan will cause him plenty of problems if he can keep attacking. I like Flynn and think he will shade the battle with Boyle but you know that Boyle will give him nothing easily. This could be the target of Dublin kickouts so Boyle will have to be aware of that and try to break as many as he can. Keegan and Connolly is another opportunity for us to create real goal scoring chances. Keegan is fit enough to take care of his business at the back and also attack at will. Connolly doesn’t care much for the defensive side of things.

    Midfield is where I can see this being won and lost. The O’Sheas don’t have the mobility or speed of the Dublin pair but they are better at controlling the tempo. They can win primary possession and distribute the ball. They must not let the Dublin MF get a goal side run on them. Higgins will need to sweep behind them in case this happens.

    All in all, this is a really tricky proposition. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a draw as the outcome. On any given day, either team could win this one. I just hope that the hurt from last year and the bullishness instilled into the lads can swing it their way. Their hunger levels are enormous and they will fight tooth and nail for every scrap on the day. I hope that’s enough!

  46. Good man Digits, thought provoking debate. We are where we want to be, so are Dublin.Both teams tore up the Donegal script and have gone for it. Little separate them, each man has the chance of immortality. Time to get the head down and face into the wind. I leave you with the words of An Spailpín last autumn, prosaic and perfect as befitting that excellent scribe.

    “Mayo’s series of All-Ireland failures mean that the Championship for them is now a seventy-minute one, that doesn’t start until half-three on the third Sunday in September. Everything else is just a super-long League. It’s neither fair nor just, but that’s how it is”.

  47. One thing to keep in mind is that Dublin were extremely lucky to finish their last game with 15 men. Cooper could easily have been sent off for that “trip” and McMahon should have seen straight red for the sly stomp on the Gooch.

    Add in the ever unpredictable Ger Brennan and you see where Im going with this

    If the Dubs start this crap next Sunday we need to be very vocal to the ref, linesman and umpires to have them give us fair play.

  48. MayoMark,

    I emailed croke park this morning as i still hadnt received mine, they emailed me back saying that they are being posted out today, so should arrive monday morning.

  49. Hello Whitey.
    I can’t see any Dublin player getting red in the final. They will be told to behave themselves and then the usual rubbish about refs not wanting to “ruin” the game. We see it every year in big matches. It was the same in the semi final.

    I don’t really blame the referees as when they do send someone off the Sunday Game panel can only talk about amateur athletes training all winter and deserving better! I reckon that you could attack someone with a hatchet in the opening minute and still only get a yellow at worst.

  50. What much of the analysis overlooks is the fact that two teams are playing. Dublin have got to an All Ireland beating Kildare, Cork and Kerry – all strong Division 1 teams.

    While Dublin have plenty to work on after the Kerry semi, they will work on it. And much of that work will involve targeting Mayo – their strong players and their weak ones. The point has been made about MacLoughlin’s injury last year – there is no doubt the Dubs dished it out there and will again if necessary. When MacLoughlin was on the skids against Tyrone, we suffered badly.

    Similarly, they will aim to avoid a midfield battle and create short kick outs to run at Mayo from deep, something that we are uncomfortable with – as London demonstrated!

    Our full backs might also be vulnerable to high ball – and why would Dubs like all other opponents, aim to get a couple of goals early on to really unsettle us? That was the one thing Tyrone did not do, but they had a couple of chances.

    And don’t believe all this mullarkey about Dublin being the total football team – they can get men behind when needed and will again. And they can dish it out and will; Aidan O’Shea will be a particular target. He is not a dirty player, but because he is so big his hits have a big impact and a slightly off challenge will see a yellow flashed. And this could be serious. Keegan, Cillian if playing, Freeman all need to be very disciplined in their tackling. We conceded a lot of frees against Donegal, which seems to suggest that our ability to turnover may be exaggerated, or that it is not impressing a particular referee – welcome back Joe McQuillan.

    Finally, Dublin will really throw the kitchen sink at us in the last 15 minutes or so, because we have not had to play competitive football in that period in any of our matches. So defending from number 15 to number 2 in a disciplined fashion is vital. Kerry were not as past it as some claim – they were ahead on 67 minutes and it could be argued that only reckless decision-making cost them in those vital minutes. So Dublin are battle hardened.

    Mon Mayo.

  51. Boyle will mark Kilkenny. Vaughan will mark Flynn. Cafferkey will mark Brogan and Cunniffe will mark Mannion. Dillion will be on McCarthy.

    I could see A Moran starting corner forward and coming out around the cf position with higgins dropping back and a 2 man inside line. This would leave big gaps in behind mccaffrey and open country for the likes of conroy and mcloughlin.

  52. Lots if great analysis here, nothing really to add other than the 6 starting forwards need to be a hell of a lot sharper. Against Tyrone and London we seen some awful wasting of hard earned possession, do that against Dublin and we”ll be in a hole before we get started.

  53. Dublin are a very direct football team and the form of Brogan and Mannion is heavily dependent on that long ball from midfield, typically from Flynn who’s crucial to how they play.

    Mayo should press aggressively at midfield, cut out the supply. Their wing-backs are dangerous but McLoughlin and Higgins should be able to handle them.

    Attacking – Conroy has to start unless O’Connor is 100% fit. Dublin have really struggled against target men and Conroy is very solid in the air. Leave two full-forwards inside and with good supply from the likes of Keegan and Dillon on that right wing and Mayo could unnerve that full-back line.

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