Dublin and Mayo will meet this weekend in All Ireland final that every football-loving GAA fan across country wished for, writes our blogger Ciarán McGowan.
These were two best teams this summer and as both play open and free flowing football, it promises to be a high-scoring classic. There will be a couple of key areas that may determine result of this game and midfield is probably right place to start. Mayo’s midfield is probably best in country with Aidan O’Shea stand out midfielder of championship to date. It’s hard to see how Dublin can win this battle but if (as they did against Cork) they play a third midfielder, they may do enough to neutralise Mayo’s dominance. Defensively, while there have been question marks over Dublin’s full back line, they have grown in confidence and stature and surely Philly McMahon did enough against Kerry to earn him a starting position.
And so this year’s championship may well go to team with best attacking options - and this is where Dublin has edge. Irrespective of starting forwards, when Jim Gavin unleashes bench in last quarter, Mayo may struggle to live with impact that substitutes like Dean Rock and Kevin McManamon can bring to dying minutes of a game. This has being a crucial part of Dublin’s game plan all year in that they seem to lift their intensity as their opposition’s energy levels subside.
Having said all this, it would be foolish to underestimate this Mayo team. Their ball retention and passing are excellent and let’s not forget: they have beaten both Donegal and Tyrone to get here. There will be no doubting their hunger given their 62 year wait to bring Sam Maguire west of Shannon and when you consider they have won three Connaught titles in a row coupled with losing in final last year, they certainly do not lack experience.
So who’s it going to be? I predict a high scoring game in that both teams are capable of scoring goals. But if Dublin can cancel out Mayo’s natural midfield dominance, I think they will win this by three or four points.