Lonesharkoy previews All Ireland Senior Football semi final replay between Dublin and Mayo and he thinks Mayo can build on the comeback from last Sunday.
Dublin vs Mayo, All Ireland SF Semi Final Replay
The accepted wisdom in the lead up to replays is that the favourite is more likely to win, since they are the team with the most scope for improvement. Of course that pre-supposes that idea that the favourites underperformed in order to fall short of winning, and that somewhat circular logic can be a little bit defective.
That certainly appears to be the case this week, where by any reasonably logic, Dublin did well to muster 2-12 with relatively little possession inside the Mayo 45m line.
Of course on a personal level, players like Paul Flynn and Stephen Cluxton will be hopeful of delivering a much better performance tomorrow evening, as will Dean Rock if he gets selected to start. Cillian O’Connor on the other hand will be hard pressed to match what was something close to a flawless effort when he takes the field for Mayo.
However when the two management teams sat down to assess the 70 minutes of action last Sunday, they would have picked up on a couple of key aspects of the contest and in terms of issues that might be addressable in a six day time span, Mayo had far more to work with.
First and foremost, they realised that while they controlled the concession of the Dublin kickout quite well, directing most of Stephen Cluxton’s restarts into the path of Michael Fitzsimons, they still conceded possession – possession that they were well able to win when Cluxton started to kick it long. Pushing up on the Dublin kickout is likely to put the boys in blue under real pressure this week, particularly since the option of finding one of Diarmuid Connolly’s arcing runs is no longer on the table.
Little or nothing came of the long deliveries that were sent towards Aidan O’Shea on the edge of the square, but the flip side of that was that the big Breaffy man didn’t get a lot of change out of Joe McQuillan, and we’d suspect that Eddie Kinsella – who tends to be a little more down the line when it comes to foul play – will be quicker to blow the whistle this week. As a general rule, Kinsella is marginally more likely to award frees than McQuillan, and given what went on last time out, he’s sure to want to stamp his authority on the game early.
On the Dublin side, discipline will of course be the key concern after the way they allowed O’Connor to fill his boots, but addressing that issue is easier said than done. Many of the Mayo runners are simply impossible to stop legally, and it’s not in Dublin’s nature to flood runners back into the middle third of the field. There will be cover in front of the full back line certainly, but after that Jim Gavin likes his team to push up and keep a high defensive line, which will get breached on occasion. Add in the fact that players like Johnny Cooper and Philly McMahon might as well be starting on a yellow card, such has been the spotlight on their approach last week, and the tackle becomes an even greater area of concern.
The more this game is examined, the more that we see that Mayo are well poised. Now allow for the absence of Connolly, who is worth a couple of points on his worst day, and the intangible aspects – such as Mayo’s tendency to fare well against Dublin, and the somewhat un-nerving determination that was evident in O’Connor’s post match interview last week – and it’s hard to escape the view that the time to get stuck into the Connacht champions is now.
2 points win Mayo to win at 11/8 with Ladbrokes, Stan James and Skybet