Boy, the tension is rising now. This morning it’s not about the All-Ireland, though – the Junior Cert results are out today and the OMG counter is set to rocket shortly. Best of luck to everyone getting results this morning, including our own darling.
But back to the football, where we’ve inched another day closer to the final. The coverage is inching up too so here’s a taste of what’s out there today.
In the Irish Independent Colm Keys has a good piece of analysis on Dublin and when in games they do the most damage. It won’t shock you enormously to learn that this occurs predominantly in the final quarter of matches and Colm lays out the numbers to underline this point.
Also in the Indo there’s a piece by Donnchadh Boyle with James Horan who talks glowingly about Alan Dillon and Andy Moran. Hard to believe it’s a full ten years since that famous win over Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final, a match in which both lads played such crucial roles.
Of all the players you’d love to see claim All-Ireland medals on Sunday – and I dearly hope the lot of them do so – there are none ahead of Alan and Andy in the queue. Legends, the pair of them. Sure isn’t there an Andy Moran song out now? There is, you know – here it is.
Donnchadh Boyle also has an article in the same paper about Dublin’s Dean Rock – here. I’d agree with Ray Cosgrove’s assessment that the Ballymun player has the potential to be a handful for us on Sunday.
He was largely a bystander in both semi-final matches last year but Rock has improved greatly in his all-round play this year and, of course, his dead-ball accuracy is hugely important for them too. His oul’ lad gave us bucketloads back in 1985, as I’m sadly old enough to recall, and Junior is well capable of doing the same the next day.
Over in the Irish Examiner Mike Quirke talks in his column about how the players took ownership of their fate by their actions last autumn and how that sense of purpose has driven them all the way to this year’s final. He reckons the forwards have to lead the way on Sunday and that we’ll need to be “more clinical and make better decisions in front of goals” than we’ve been doing so far this summer. Hard to argue with any of that.
In the same vein is this light-hearted piece in the Irish Times by Malachy Clerkin, who muses about the loss of all those tired old shibbeloths that have been doing the rounds about us for decades. I know a few of you got a bit irked by this one but I think we need to be able to laugh at ourselves when the occasion demands as it plainly does here.
Also in the Times, Darragh Ó Sé discusses in his column (here) what we need to do to put it up to Dublin on Sunday. On our chances he says “I definitely give Mayo a squeak here” which is either a new Kerry colloquialism or is a case of our being damned with faint praise. It appears to be the former, from my reading of what he says, as he doles out the credit for our victory over Tyrone, a win that’s largely been airbrushed from this year’s championship narrative.
The Kerryman goes part of the way to meet Jim McGuinness in yesterday’s column when he talks about the need to disrupt the control that Dublin seek to impose on tight games. He makes the interesting point that when Cluxton had his sandcastle knocked over in the semi-final, the players out the field went missing too, thus making it harder for the ‘keeper to find the optimum restart.
Darragh reckons that the kind of wobble Kerry forced them into – a similar one to that which we provoked in last year’s drawn semi-final – could well be the price they’re being forced to pay for eschewing for so many years the tactic of kicking long to midfield. In other words, their greatest strength carries within it a chink of weakness. It’s an interesting insight for sure.
His other piece of advice to us is to target Cian O’Sullvan and to do this via Cillian O’Connor driving at him from centre-forward. He reckons this could get O’Sullivan out of his comfort zone and cause the kind of disruption we need to create to create profitable openings inside.
In the end, Darragh concludes – sensibly, you’d have to say – that all this more than likely won’t be enough for us. He does, though, point to a few areas where we can sow doubt and confusion in their ranks and you can be sure that it’s plans of this type that we’ll arrive at HQ with on Sunday.
Just time for one more – Christy O’Connor’s column from the Evening Echo, which is all about our lads. I’ve no time to go through it but it’s worth a read.
Right, gotta dash. Back a bit later with another Mayo News podcast.
The last Mayo GAA Players Welfare Lotto draw before Sunday’s final will be held this coming Friday, where six more tickets for the decider will be up for grabs. Play the Lotto here.