Monday match reports

We’re back in the final and, because yesterday’s match was an All-Ireland semi-final, there’s obviously oodles of coverage about it. Here are all your Monday morning links to what’s online relating to yesterday’s big win for the lads over Tipperary at a fog-bound Croke Park.

Locals: Mayo Advertiser, Connaught Telegraph (match report, post-match quotes), Tipperary Live.

Nationals: Irish Times (live blog, match report, Keith Duggan, post-match quotes, TV view), Sunday World, Irish Examiner (match report, player ratings, post-match quotes from James Horan and David Power, looking ahead to Mayo v Dublin, Colin Sheridan), Irish Independent (match report, post-match quotes, Dick Clerkin, Frank Roche, Vincent Hogan, Eamonn Sweeney), Irish Sun (live blog, match report), Irish Mirror (match report, player ratings, post-match quotes from Cillian O’Connor, five talking points).

Others: GAA (live blog, match report, post-match quotes from James Horan and David Power), RTÉ (live blog, match report, post-match quotes from James Horan, Cillian O’Connor and David Power, player ratings), Sky Sports (live blog, match report, post-match quotes from James Horan), BBC, The 42 (live blog, match report, post-match quotes from James Horan and David Power, post-match analysis), Breaking News, OTB Sports.

Photos: Inpho, Sportsfile.

Video: GAA.

The big match review episode of the Mayo News football podcast went online shortly after midnight after yet another herculean editing effort by Rob Murphy. This one simply sizzles with loads of great voices and you’re in for an enjoyable hour in its company – the episode is on SoundCloud here and, of course, many of you will already have it in your podcast feed.

That’s it for now – keep voting in the MOTM poll, which will remain open until later on. Cillian’s on target for another gong, by the looks of it, and, having posted the highest individual score ever in a Championship match yesterday, you’d have to say that this is proper order. You’re the judges, though, so keep casting those votes.

Support the lads as once again they shoot for All-Ireland glory! Play the Mayo GAA Lotto and be in with a chance to win the €8,200 jackpot prize – here.

65 thoughts on “Monday match reports

  1. Well, well. Is the glass half full, or half empty? And the half that’s missing, was it ever in it, or did we spill it?

    A puzzling sort of game that almost leaves as many questions as answers, as many of our games have done since we returned to play after lockdown. Were Roscommon that bad, or did we completely nullify them? Were Galway under cooked, or did we cutely play out time and hold on? Did Tipp really deserve to be in a semi-final at all after the close call v Limerick and catching Cork still on the lash after their Kerry win, or did we destroy them to such an extent that we could “clock out” on the 47th minute?

    The legendary Johnny Giles always preaches two things… 1. you can only beat the team in front of you, and 2, never give a sucker a chance. Mayo followed through on Giles’ tomes of wisdom and got the job done. Sometimes brilliantly, sometimes worryingly. But, they got the job done.
    For me, we are in bonus territory as my hopes for this season were to win Connaught and blood new players. Anything over and above that, for me, was a bonus. We now have a free hit on the Dubs. To win (and I firmly believe we can win) we need to hit the same efficiency in attack as we did yesterday, we need to break even in midfield (somehow), we need Dublin to underperform by a % or two, we need the 50/50 calls to go our way and the bounce of the ball to come to us, not away from us. It’s a tall order and some of those items are outside of our control but if we are prepared to take advantage of every bounce of the ball, every break in the play, you never know what might happen. 2020 has thrown up stranger things!

  2. Cillian o’connor will obviously walk the motm poll, how could he not after scoring 4-9!!!! I would say cillian is definitely in the mix for player of the year too, between himself and fenton i reckon.

    I just want to give a shoutout to his young apprentice Tommy Conroy in the other corner who is also having a stellar season, a real breakout star he has impressed in every game and could get better too.

    That FF line will undoubtedly ask Dublin questions

    We are in a great place going into final, the national conversation seems to be around Dublins financial clout and the usual ‘Mayo4sam’ hype frenzy. No fans will be a help too

  3. @Pebblesmeller
    I tend to agree with your synopsis, that we can beat them. We dont really know how good dublin are this year as they havent played a single division 1 side yet, they have been fortunate enough to avoid the big guns.

    Are we as strong as we were in 2017? Likely not. But the same goes for Dublin, are guys like scully/bugler etc better than connolly/flynn etc. Absolutely not.

    Think we will certainly ask questions of their fullback line with our agressive press and can score goals.

    2 main areas of concern for me are:
    1. The fenton issue, what is to be done about that man. He destroyed our entire midfield single handedly last year, he is the greatest midfielder to ever play the game. Stop him and you seriously diminish dublin, cant think of a suitable matchup though for the life of me.
    2. Im a broken record but Clarkes kickouts are a huge huge worry for me going into final. They were a problem yesterday again and you dont stand a chance against dublin without a decent kickout plan. The cavan goalie galligan was actually excellent on kickouts saturday, Cavan must have won 100% of their own kickouts and still got a hiding, so whatever hope you have kickouts need to be close to 100%

  4. 2020 is indeed a strange year and it got even stranger this morning. Me, galway only blood for generations and a gaa fan talking about the match with a Mayo friend. Him being dismissive of Mayo, haven’t played anyone of note, kickouts were bad, won’t be as accurate the next day, we’ll see will can he kick 4-9 in the final. Me giving them a great chance, Dublin haven’t been tested, Horan will have a plan, Tommy Conroy is some find, anything can happen, weather, black cards, red cards. Very strange year indeed

  5. Supermac, kickouts definitely a problem. We coughed up about 4 goal chances in a row from our own kickout in the second half.

  6. Great first off to be here on a Monday morning reading the papers. Onward to the final now – I certainly didn’t think we’d end of here!! What those senior players have given for the cause is inspirational. Its a shame Jason and Brendan are injured as they are missed. The defence yesterday was very worrying and the Dubs forwards are obviously a lot better than Tipperary’s. Good man Cillian.

  7. It was really noticeable that Mayo began to lose the edge at midfield when Diarmuid and Eoghan McLoughlin departed the fray. Those two guys, flying fit, are absolutely essential to the task of hoovering up the dirty ball around the middle. Hope that Eoghan is OK. He looked very uncomfortable when he went to ground before going off.

  8. Horan has two weeks to make a plan. He was the only option for the job………. after they pushed out Rochford and he was a popular choice. We have to give him his due he has won us a league a Connacht championship and got us back in the final while developing a new team. Will he change things for the final in terms of adding additional cover…….. personally I dont think so. I think he will go man on man push up on their kickouts and try to play foot to the floor football. Changes will involve match ups etc.
    Its just the way he seems to see the game. To be honest I dont think we can expect any different in this or future finals.

  9. Great win for Mayo yesterday, Tipp very poor at the back no more than ourselves. 3-13 was some score to give up considering that they should have had at least another 3 goals. We have to take Lee Keegan out of that full back line and put him at left half back. Lee’s forte is carrying the ball out of defence and hurting the opposition defence. I think Padraig O Hora will do a better job there in the full back line. We have our work cut out in the final trying to stay with with this supremely fit Dublin side. That’s what it will come down to as it always does. They are no better footballers than many other county footballers but they are way fitter than most. Here hoping that our determination and some luck on the day will make up for conceding fitness levels.

  10. O Hora didnt exactly put his hand up yesterday Everhopeful, he got done badly by sweeney for the 3rd tipp goal.

    Im probably not as confident in our squad as i was earlier in year, think the first xv is set in stone for the final now.
    As another contributor said darren coen was the only sub staking a claim but he defo wont be getting an on-form full forward line. Havent seen anything from Parsons since his injury to suggest he should be in the mix

    Eoghan McLaughlin has become a key player for us, like a newer younger boyle, rewatched highlights this morning and so much comes from his hard running and physicality

  11. The picture at the top of this page makes me sad, that would ordinarily be the canal walk i would take towards the stadium, full of anticipation, after sinking a quick pint in The Red Parrott, its not the same watching in your sitting room really

  12. Lookit, yesterday was delightfully bonkers as we have come to expect from this Mayo team. Utter brilliance interspersed with pure lunacy. I thought it would be much closer, and I admit I was worried, but clearly I know nothing.

    You can be certain however based on previous encounters with Dublin that we will see a much more polished, disciplined and far less chaotic unit come All-Ireland Final day.

    I hope we have McLaughlin and Barrett back. It’s incredible how indispensable McLaughlin has become in the space of a few weeks; the same with Tommy Conroy.

    As Pebblesmeller says above, this is serious bonus territory for us. I’m thrilled that we have a Nestor in the bag and beat Galway and Roscommon to win it. We now have a free shot against the greatest team to ever play the game (or was that the 2013 or the 2015 or the 2017 Dublin team? I’m not sure anymore, but it sure as hell is not a “once in a generation” team, as Bernard Brogan put it).

    When everyone expects us to lose, we can play without pressure. Our players will have a bit of peace from the ticket vultures. James will have a break from what appears to be the bane of his life – the press. And it appears the only ones missing the presence of supporters will be ourselves! None of us need be stressing about tickets either because the only good thing about missing a day like this is the fact that everyone else is too.

    I honestly don’t think we have a hope of winning it, but, chances of a Christmas miracle aside, I am sure as hell going to enjoy the fun of the next fortnight (while saying a few novenas for our midfield and full back lines) and be damn proud of our team for reaching a final in a year like this. Up Mayo!

  13. I would almost be conceding midfield in the final. Use 2 extra players in the backs. One in front of the full back line and one in front of the half back line. Set up like fort Knox.

    Man on man in the backs I Dublin will get through. With the extra 2 in defense I think Dublin would have great difficulty setting up their scoring chances.

    We get a very poor return from kickouts in any case from midfield and in reality all we are doing is wearing ourselves down chasing Fenton and Macarthy up and down the pitch while leaving ourselves with only the 6 defenders.

    We are brilliant at stripoing the ball so I would nearly set up to close off all space for their forwards.

  14. Clarke is the best shot stopper, good in the air, saved us from going 6 down yesterday, we are putting way too much on him, if we kick 13 wides in a match as we have done, does anyone blame the forward s, no, if Clarke puts one kick out out over the line we are on his case, why not look at the midfield, neither are high fielders, is that Clarke fault too, the law of averages suggests one or two from any goal keeper will go astray if he had to go short all the time. As for blaming Clarke for tipps goals, come on, the players out the field let the tipp men run through without laying a hand on them, henelly put plenty kick outs astray too when he got the nod but let’s not go there,

  15. The issue with the kickouts were persistent long before this year and the current midfield pairing, come on now.

  16. I think it’s very interesting the two players who went off early were Eoghan McLaughlin and Diarmuid O’Connor. I would love to see the stats of the ground covered by them two lads. I’d say it was savage altogether. They were cramping up by the end. Box to box stuff of the new central midfield type player. The old style 6ft 5′ midfielder of David Moran, Tom Flynn type players is dead and burried. Dublin have showed the way in this. Fenton looks tall but I was standing beside him and he’s not all that.. he is thin, hard as nails and will run all day. Mattie will have to mark him out of the game. Can he do that? Based on last year’s league form.. yes! We have only seen glimpses of that form this year so here hoping he can in two weeks!

  17. This is a great achievement from a Mayo team plagued with injuries, and retirements. Back in a final so soon is fantastic. Not stressing out about the final, like previous years. Nice mix of youth and experience. Being the strangest of years maybe this is the year we finally get a bit of luck. Dublins reign has to at some stage come to an end. Cillian o Connor beyond fantastic yesterday. Maradonaesq. Player of the year without doubt.
    Regarding Pat Spillanes rant about allowing players families and some front line workers into Finals is a good idea, but I cannot see the GAA allowing in though.

  18. Kudos to James Horan for having the courage to try out five or six players in every league game ,it has relegated us to div 2 but the players he has now in the panel ,was worth it all.
    Kieran MacDonald has done a tremendous job with our attack ,three attempts short and one wide over 70 + minutes.
    On the downside our defence was all over the place ,bad positioning,tackling and parted like the red sea when they ran at us.
    If Buckley is available I would parachute him in for a few sessions to improve the whole defensive setup.
    Having said all that it is a super performance to get a team in transition to an All Ireland Final.

  19. I know allot wont agree with this but i think Conor Loftus has been a huge asset in midfield. I was watching him yesterday and he always seems to be available to take a pass and never gives the ball away. I know he isn’t going to win primary possession allot but he looks to be a really intelligent footballer and obviously is a phenomenal athlete because he seems to pop up all over the pitch. Great man to link play.

  20. _________________________Clarke
    Barrett/Rock_____Keegan/Callaghan____Mullen/Small
    _________________________Kevin Mc
    Durkan/Kilkenny_______Coen/Bulger____EMcLaugh/Scully
    __________Loftus/McCarthy____Ruane/Fenton
    Diarmuid/McDaid________Small__________Ryan OD/Murchan
    Conroy/Fitzmaurice_____Aido/Philly____Cillian/Cooper

    Subs; Jordan Flynn for Ryan O D, James Carr for Conroy, Fionn Mc for Diarmuid, Higgins for Coen, D Coen for Loftus

    When I look at it that way I think we are alot more even than most people think .

  21. I don’t think Callaghan plays on the full forward line anymore and I do not trust Keegan to play on the full back line. He has been brilliant over the years think he’s lost half a yard of pace Gives away a lot of silly fouls . Callaghan had a field day against Keegan last year in the second half. We have spoken about Fenton saying that he’s unmarkable is there a possibility Keegan could do a job on him when you consider what he did to Kavanagh a number of years ago safer to play him outField. Probably wouldn’t have the legs for a full match.

  22. Great Post outside the boot, I thought keegan was very poor yesterday, im a massive fan of leeroy but corner back is not his best position, where is eoin o Donohoe

  23. Toe to hand, I agree with you that Mattie could do a good job marking Fenton – he has the height, the engine and the agility to stay with him.

  24. Three certainties in life are death, Taxes and James Horan never playing a sweeper. Lads its never going to happen, Horan has never played a dedicated sweeper and he isnt going to start now less than two weeks to an All Ireland final. We finally have a forward unit capable of putting up a score big enough to beat the Dubs and some people want to split that up and play one or even two extra defenders, utter madness!!! we might keep the Dublin score down that way but it would be impossible to win. Teams far more experienced playing sweepers than Mayo have been well beaten by Dublin, Mayo’s best chance is to continue with the process Horan has introduced, high intensity, high press, try to force turnovers and counter quickly.

  25. Not sure what our defenders are been told – but I don’t know how many times yesterday Mayo defenders stood on the side watching as Tipp players walked through the middle to create goal chances. I know they may have been marking or following their own players – but the priority has to be to protect the goal. Surely defenders have to see the danger and come across and try to block the players coming through the middle.
    It reminded me of Murchens goal against Ky last year – where he walked through the middle and corner backs stood out near the sideline marking their own players.
    I have no doubt we will have learnt lessons from yesterday.

  26. Haven’t seen a single reference to him in the press, but would be so much better if we had Jason to call on. Not to be down on things at all, but if he’s back and fit next year I think that’s a straightforward upgrade for the team. Great to have another final to look forward to, fantastic achievement by the whole extended panel

  27. Dublin have got into a routine now of picking their shots in very specific areas of the pitch, endlessly positioning themselves into those areas and then almost always scoring. If Mayo can crowd those areas and strip the ball as said above it would be interesting. Perhaps Dublin would then just go for the jugular for goals but the only way to stop them is to disrupt that positioning. The only problem is by funneling back the players to disrupt Dublin Mayo will be on the backfoot and almost accepting defeat unless they get a very lucky break and Cooper is a model man to provide them with a red or black card. Dublin’s physical power will I think probably overwhelm Mayo in the last 15 minutes but the key I suppose is to be still in the game at the second half water break. Looking at the defense yesterday It just wont do and the game will be over at half time so ultra defensive is probably the best plan. It would come as a huge shock for Mayo to win this game and the ability of Dublin to replace players with equally strong players is unavailable to any other county. Mayo need a wet, cold, windy day and a big slice of luck perhaps the 19th of December will deliver such a day but sadly lady luck has certainly never been in yer corner on an All -Ireland final day.

  28. Thing that worries me about Keegan, I cant ever recall him jumping in like he did yesterday and miss the ball and hand a golden chance to his marker who collected it behind him , o hora did the exact same thing when he came on , if we are not covering the space what would you jump in like that for , seems such a blaise attitude.

    It seems an almighty task to beat Dublin but there are areas we could trouble Dublin , our strongest line in 2020 will be marshalled by arguably their weakest line . Its definitely not impossible to actually win the all Ireland. Horan has gone way up in my mind , hes a smart boy and is 100% building a team specifically to beat Dublin eventually . Might as well get it over with and do it this year so we can get on with the back to back titles .

  29. Can I offer ye all some advice, dont over thinks, dont shit yourselves with who is going to pick who etc.
    Stay clear from negative thoughts for the next 12 days.
    Dont involve yourself too deep emotionally.
    Let the Mayo team and management decide on the best strategy for the final they know best.
    This is my new tactic pre games, I stayed off the airwaves in the lead up to the Tipp and from this point will remain off until the final.
    Santa claus will make a visit the vicinity of Croker on Sat week.
    We got to believe.

  30. Yesterday was the first time in this championship that we have gone gung ho and we did because we were playing an average 3rd division side and Horan knew it. We will certainly not play like that against Dublin. But Horan isn’t going to reinvent the wheel either, there’ll be no changing goalkeeper, keegan to midfield, Dillon named at full back, it will 15 on 15 with 13 players funnelling back when out of possession. Which by the way is what Dublin do. Dublin don’t go for the Hollywood scores, they work high percentage opportunities through over laps and clever movement into the scoring zone. The fella kicking the ball over the bar is very rarely under pressure which means that someone has switched off and let his man go. To curb this everyone needs to be switched on 100% of the time and we need to really get stuck into them. Hit them hard, let them know they’re in a game at least. Easier said than done I know.

  31. GREAT win but it needs to be parked immediatly. everything seems to be falling into place.i think we will win the fina this year.james is now a brillant manager with mac by his side . I really think james and mac should contact stephen rochford to help MAYO win the all-ireland final.stephen has come very close twice to beating dublin and he will be willing to help

  32. One thing struck me when watching back and contrasting the 2016 final (replay) and the 2017 final. Seamie O’Shea in the 2016 replay had a good game, was influential, mobile, physical and moved the ball fairly well. However, in 2017 it was clear that he had slowed down that little bit over the course of the year (possibly carrying an injury), which the Dubs really exploited in ’17. Watch it back. The match passed him by in many ways and he was taken after 50 or so minutes. Dubs players were just bypassing him in the middle third. I don’t mean to single Seamie out or disrespect him, it’s just that it was noticeable that he’d lost that bit of pace and zip around the middle and those fractions will be punished mercilessly by the Dubs.

    The reason I mention it now is because I bet James Horan has studied in detail our losses to Dublin in the finals. He sees aspects like this and you’d have to think it’s one of the reasons he’s consistent this year in going with a very mobile midfield. Taking Aido out of midfield is more evidence of this, and it’s very probable that Aido will wait at FF for most of the final. I hope he does. He’s in some shape this year and I think he’ll be more than a match for Philly or whoever Dublin throw at him. Sheer size and physicality alone will make him a nightmare to deal with, although Philly is extremely strong, and a match for Aidan in this respect. I truly feel it will be Philly in on him from the start. I can’t see any other Dublin back holding Aidan this year.

    If either Aido or Cillian have a standout final performance I think we have a right good chance of winning. All depends of course how much Dubs put on the board at the other end, and given our defensive performance yesterday, we have grounds for concern. But as other posters have rightly said, Mayo will probably set up that bit differently against the Dubs, not radically so, but just a bit more structure at the back. Overall, it will still be Horanball, and I’d agree that this is our best chance of winning. It’s also our best chance of rattling the Dubs (if that’s even possible this year!). But we must play to our strengths, play the game we believe in and, as always, let the chips fall where they may.

  33. How I would deal with Fenton.I actually think Stephen Coen could do a good man marking job on him and it would leave Matty Ruane and Conor Loftus get on with there own games.Coen is a stopper not a footballer and his job would be just to keep Fenton out of the game and for him to punch or break away any attempted catches Fenton makes for high balls from long kickouts.

    pairings I would go with
    Leeroy on Dean Rock
    Barrett on Con O’Callaghan
    Mullin on Jack Small /Paul Mannion
    McLaughlin on Niall Scully
    Paddy Durcan on Ciaran Kilkenny
    Diarmuid O’Connor on Sean Bugler
    Stephen Coen on Brian Fenton
    Matty Ruane on James McCarthy
    Kev McLoughlin dropping as sweeper in early stages or First Half

  34. I think no crowd will be an advantage to Mayo. It may sound bad but no pressure from our own fans (ooh’s aah’s sighs groans moans etc.) Dublin wont have their constant adulation, referee influence (no penalty by an opposing team into the Hill etc.). We have been on the wrong end of a lot of poor decisions by officials so this may change without the crowd, better concentration focus etc.) Also the build up to throw in has been very Dublin biased and was actually getting worse yr on yr ….less pressure on the young fella’s also i would think. All these small things might count for something.

  35. Just about recovered from alll the rubbish posts several people made after the Dublin game.Very disappointing. Mayo hadn’t even played and they were still bleating on about how futile attempting to match Dublin is. Didn’t sound like real supporters to my ears! Completiely forgetting Mayo in the recent past only lose finals by the minimum of margins.
    I can only hope these passionate negative comments were an attempt to double bluff dublin – and they really do believe there is great hope. Because i think there is..

  36. What weaknesses have the Dubs that could be exploited? Very few if any I hear you say and you are right.
    I noticed one thing about the Dubs. They rarely take the ball into contact unless they have a great chance of breaking the tackle. The man in possession moves the ball quickly to one of two or three runners and if they are in any danger of losing possession they turn back and head for their own goal to link up with a free player coming up in support. This is hard work for the Dublin players but it makes them feel comfortable and secure on the ball. And this gives them enormous confidence. How do you counter this? It involves two very important principles in defending:
    (a) pressure on the man in possession
    (b) pressure on the man receiving the ball.
    In simple terms this means man-to-man marking, touch tight at all times. This is desperately hard work for defenders and requires huge levels of stamina and nimbleness.
    Dublin have got used to playing other teams on their own terms based on keeping possession secure. What if a team could upset this rhythm and make them very uncomfortable in possession through intense work? Would they get the huge scores they have become accustomed to? Maybe not!
    Just a thought!

  37. Thelondoneye,I am around long enough to remember how Kerry steamrolled teams back in the late 70s early 80s and our parents talking about how boring it had all become, they would stroll to their 5 in a row…but they didn’t because of a sticky Offaly team. In f we can stick in there and who knows, we might have our own Darby moment in the guise of James Carr, Paul Towey or a.n.other. So ya,we are there and there’s always a chance. If it does happen it will be the most celebrated victory (not literally) since 1982.

  38. Personally would play 5 back at all times 3 in FB line and 2 sitting on front of them blocking up the middle. These 5 never leave this area. Not to attack and not to follow decoy runners.
    On there kickout would pull everybody inside our 45. Have extremely heavy traffic for them between the two 45s. On our kickout 2 upfront.

    If we stop them scoring goals then we give ourselves a chance. we have conceded 14 goals against them in the last 7 championship matches that is the key stat

  39. Diehard, I don’t think their system itself has any weaknesses honestly. However, on an individual level, I do think there’s a lack of composure in Jonny Cooper compared to the rest of the Dublin team. He can be got at and he fouls a lot. If he starts, whoever he ends up marking, there’ll be some niggle in it. He may get left out of the starting line up the next day because of that, but if he is there, I think whoever is in there with him needs to take the battle to him because I think you will get some change.

    Would also like to see Murchan rattled a bit.

  40. @dreamysleepynightysnoozysnooze I agree that their system has shown no real weaknesses so far and indeed at a personnel level I cannot identify obvious weaknesses including Johnny Cooper.
    However, to beat any system you first need to understand that system and the elements that make it successful. And then set about unhinging its main components. In Dublins case this, for me, means depriving them of the luxury of owning the ball for prolonged periods. This means outworking them all over the field. It’s a bit like Jack Charltons ‘put em under pressure’.

  41. Hi, Yes, Nice to read the increasing positivity.

    I am happy with the Mayo Management to come up with the best team and tactics for the 19th.
    How could one not be hopeful with a full forward like ours and players we’ll able to deliver good ball to them as well as our running attackers and unsung half forwards.

    My memory of games is really standing around waiting for the ball to come my way with trepidation. So I don’t discuss tactics. But do recognise the beauty of this Mayo team and of course they can win. (The pundits have already got things wrong big time this year.)

    It is probably best that there is no crowd and it will be just an intense training session for our men. So just relax and marvel at it all.

  42. @diehard.

    One of Dublins main strengths is their patience in getting in to perfect or near perfect shooting positions. They recycle the ball until a channel opens up and they get a shooter in to the perfect position to shoot any easy score.

    Somehow we have to keep the channels blocked off. I cannot see that happening without helpers or sweepers.

    If we ask our midfielders to try and duke it out with the Dublin midfielders you not only have one on one in our back lines but you have also the likes of Fenton, McCarthy, Howard bearing down towards our goal with our midfielders in tow.

    What have we ever got from competing with Dublin recently at midfield. 2 or 3 players out on their feet with 20 or 25 minutes remaining. I would prefer to block the channels and frustrate them. Turn them over. Let long ball to our half forwards. They can race towards midfield to meet and collect. The Dublin half backs will have to come with them to try and cover them. That leaves Aidan, Cillian and Tommy inside to wreak havoc on their full back line when we get the ball to them.

    I would also keep a couple of designated subs on the bench. If we could force the game to a tight finish you can be sure the likes of Costelloe will be sent in to win the game for them. You don’t want him coming in and been marked by one of our lads that has already spent 60 minutes chasing and harrying the Dublin forwards. We need to have a couple of our subs to send on specifically to counter act Dublins substitutions.

    I know most people wouldn’t agree with my thinking of conceding midfield but I believe the most thing the Dublin management wants to see are a few of our lads out in midfield trying to keep pace with Fenton and McCarthy. That opens up the whole pitch for them. Its exactly what Dublin will want to see.

  43. Agree Revellino regarding the way Dubs are masters at getting into scoring positions. I listened to the Gaa Hour earlier (Wooly Parkinson etc). Cian Ward describes this very well. The Dubs excel at finding space for the man on the ball (in all parts of the pitch), and drag opposition players out of position to let the blue runners make headway. It’s incredible the way they do this. They make Croker seem twice the green space that it really is.

    Thankfully in the past, ie 2016 and 2017 we’ve done excellently at getting in close to the man with the ball and putting pressure on them. But as everyone agrees, Dubs have definitely taken it to a whole new level this year so this should be a key concern for us. And have we improved since those years? I’m not so sure. I doubt it, in fact. I’d still be a little worried that we’ve so many new lads. No way would I change any of them now because they’re there on merit and they’re the absolute best we have in the county. But this is such a huge, huge stage, and they lack experience and cuteness at this level. The positive thing is that they all performed well in the semi, but ….a final is a different animal. And who knows, sometimes with youth comes fearlessness so it could equally go that way and they could tear into it. Here’s hoping. I wouldn’t blame them if they struggle. It may be year too early for them, and for this team, and so be it if that’s the case.

    One big positive to potentially counter this is the mix of experience that’s already there on the team, both on the starting 15 and coming in off the bench. The more I think about this game the more I can see Keith coming in in second half and making a significant contribution. He’s always played well against Dublin. He’ll also be kicking himself after the shaky cameo against Galway so he’ll want to purge that from memory. No one deserves to be on that field more than Keith but, that said, we all know too well that there’s no place for sentimentality when it comes to football at this level, so, if he plays he’ll also be there on merit. Keith has an ability to find space with his nimble body movement and pace, and does this very well outfield. As I said before, he will struggle in man-marking roles against the Dubs. We need to utilise his quality elsewhere, even with 15mins to go. I for one would be thrilled to see him enter the fray because of what he has to offer, which is substantial.

    I would worry a little about the depth of our bench. Apart from Darren Coen the last day, there wasn’t much of an impact. I’d love to know Horan’s thoughts on the likes of Carr, Boland, Walsh and these lads, and where they’re at currently in terms of form. After yesterday, it’s likely that Darren will be the first forward sub and if Walsh is fit he’ll be there in the mix too. Exciting times!

  44. Revellino, it’s an interesting thought. I agree that we may have to concede midfield as I just do not think we have the fielders to compete there and I think Dublin will target this area time and again. We really do need to have a plan for that part of the pitch instead of just taking our chances if we really want to have any hope of staying with the dubs.

    I’m not optimistic that there will be any sight of a sweeper though. Horan doesn’t seem to believe in it. And I think he ultimately will end up going man to man as I think that’s the philosophy he subscribes to – high risk for potential high reward. Could get very ugly. That said, I don’t know how else you push the Dubs without taking risks? Conservative defending is no bother to them and in fact plays into their hands if anything. Taking the game to them is really the only way anyone has gotten close to them.

  45. Dreamysleepy I have to agree with there,we have to take the game to them, if we pack the defence we will only invite them on , but serious work has to be done on our defence before the 19th, we were a shambles at times, I would pull keegan into wing back where he s comfortable, put paddy centre and coen into the full back line

  46. Dublin have ruined football. Their brand of football is terrible to watch, constant running and hand passing until they get a position to shoot where they can’t miss. It is now becoming the model to try and follow. They win most games huge margins and there is no point watching the 2nd half, it is just not a good game to watch and looks like a monster has been created that will destroy the game.

  47. I was speaking to a friend yesterday, who mentioned that the Dubs have borrowed elements from basketball. I know this is not a new topic.

    I had been saying I noticed the Dubs moving the ball on fast from man to man in the Cavan square when Cavan were trying to stop a scorer. Cavan were blocking men well but the Dubs just kept popping on a short pass to a man on their right, part of a string of Dublin players extending out in a line. I was looking at this open mouthed and frustrated. How could they just have a string of players arcing around the D, who just all arrived there waiting for a pass?
    It’s clinical again, reducing the chances of missing the score.
    After my conversation with my friend, I think this is what basketballers do, come in force to support the man with the ball with the aim of getting the score.
    We must disrupt their certainties, their patterns. And we must have a plan to frustrate Con O’C.

  48. Dublin are a brilliant side , I don’t understand how anyone can deem their football as terrible to watch, it’s pace power and skill at its finest. They pretty much look unbeatable as a unit but this craic of putting some of their players up on a pedestal as if they just swallowed some kind of superhero powder and can’t be beat to a ball is daft. Brian Fenton can be tackled like every of other player, I’d love to see paddy Durcan stick to him like glue, match ups will be very interesting.

  49. @Sean. You might tackle Fenton for 40 or 50 minutes but he is a pure athlete. In any game he plays he ends up receiving the ball with nobody within 10 yards of him. That’s because the opponent’s engines have blown. He has never lost a championship game and if we don’t come up with something different and a bit unorthodox he won’t lose his next game either.

    I’d say Obama was only half way through his 2nd term the last time Dublin lost in the championship.

    I do think there is a way to beat Dublin but Dublin play football like a game of chess. If you mark them man to man they move you to wherever they want you on the pitch.

    The management have a real quandary to solve in the next week and a half and good luck to them.

    If you took 10 people from the blog here and asked them to set the team up for the final there is a good chance you would have 10 different set ups.

    It would be a brave or maybe not so smart manager who might tell their team ” Go out and play your own game ” and not put a plan in place for this match.

    As good as Dublin are you can be sure they will have their own plans in place on how they are going to play us in a week and a half.

  50. Horan has realised we don’t have the fielders we once had in Aiden, Seamie, Tom so what James has done now is have one of our players challenge for the ball and try to disrupt the catch and then 3/4 people swarm around the ball if its knocked down. That’s if it goes long. When you play Dublin you can have the best fielders in the country but Cluxton is that good that he can pick someone out anyways making them redundant. With Clarke in goal our priority has to be to create space for short kickout. If Dublin play a sweeper which I expect them to do if Aiden plays in FF, that means there should be a Mayo player free at all times, that player is crucial to create the space for Clarke to kickout.

  51. The argument against using a packed backline is this. If we look at defending as something that happens in our own half or inside our own 45 we are simply playing into the system the Dubs love. This gives them free possession around midfield where they can throw the ball around under no pressure and wait for a runner or a slip up by Mayo and then they are in for a score. They are well used to this system and feel comfortable and confident doing it. Nobody has changed this formula for a very long time.
    On the other hand if we view defending as starting on their end line and putting intense pressure on each and every man in possession and on those likely to receive a pass it changes the game. Keeping up this pressure all over the field is certainly very hard work but it does upset comfortable patterns of play. It will force more 50/50 passes and cause mistakes. When have we last seen the Dubs being forced into playing 50/50 balls?
    My argument is that if we don’t rattle their system or style they will win and win comfortably. Of course we need the players / athletes to do this and I don’t know if we have enough to pull it off but we certainly have a good few tough athletic lads who won’t lack motivation to change the story that we are all sick of at this stage.

  52. If Mayo defence plays like it did against Tipp , the final could turn into a very one sided game with Dublin scoring goals at will. What’s wrong with old fashioned defences, with each back staying goal side of the man he is marking and getting out in front of him when the ball is coming. after all its15 against 15 and all are fully fit , so if every man marks his opposite number , there should be no free players to cut through our defence.

  53. @Diehard. Spot on summation. I honestly think that is the only way they will be beaten. As you said though it is very difficult to play with that intensity for long periods, if we can I think we have a shot, I do worry tho that in the last 10 to 15 we may be struggling and they will pull away.

    On a side note I think we should all enjoy being back in a final and stop focusing on Dublin so much. In many ways I think there is less pressure this year, it feels like bonus territory, it kinda feels like a free shot and we can be guaranteed one thing with the Mayo team they will give it absolutely everything they have. There have been far greater upsets in sport than Mayo beating Dublin on Saturday week , In this year’s championship alone Cork were bigger outsiders to beat Kerry, Cavan were far bigger outsiders to beat Donegal so maybe just maybe things may finally fall our way.

  54. @Culmore I couldn’t agree more. It’s about marking your man and making it as awkward as possible for him to get possession and if he gets the ball making it equally awkward for him to do anything worthwhile with it. I hate complex defensive systems or indeed complexity of any kind on the field. (I’m a fairly simple minded individual anyway). Keep it simple is what I say.
    Man to man is very simple! Simple for lads to understand, simple to plan, simple to stick to but of course very severe on energy and stamina. And it might indeed result in us running out of steam with 10 mins to go but at least we might be still in the game at that stage or maybe even ahead – God forbid!

  55. And of course the following saying is worth noting: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Both teams will take note of this. See how we were blitzed within 5 or 6 minutes at the start of the second half of the semi final last year. Similar with us against Kerry in 2006. Similar with Donegal’s two goals against us in 2012. We were royally punched in the gob on all those occasions. Game over in the blink of an eye. That’s all it takes.

    A final is a funny entity, and I do believe that we won’t allow the Dubs to saunter and glide up and down the pitch in the same way they’ve done for their last 3 matches. Similarly, they won’t let us run at them they way we do against other teams. We’ll have to punch the Dubs in the mouth multiple times to get close to them Saturday week. If we begin well, they’ll try to adapt to that as the game unfolds, and they’ll have spotters on the line feeding them information on how and where to do this. However, whether they can implement the changes to thwart our strengths (as they do with every other team) will depend on whether we let them or not. Make no mistake about it, the Dubs are only human, and can be got at and they’ll be feeling the pressure as much as us. They, like us, will have a couple of players who won’t perform to their best on the day due to nerves. Management, statisticians, or spotters on the line won’t be able to kick the ball, create the turnover, etc, only the lads on the pitch in the action will be able to do that. That in itself really levels the playing field. It’s going to be fascinating. It will be nerve-wracking but the thrill of thrills at the same time.

  56. Sean Burke they are a brilliant side but their brand of football is terrible to watch. In fact I think it is hard to call it football. It is ruining the game and I think very few people watch a full game when the Dubs are playing. Not only is their hand passing / running game very hard to watch, the fact that they most of their games are so one sided takes all the fun out of football. They are ruining the game as a spectacle, brilliant but boring as hell!

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