Friday 30 September 2016

Dublin have firepower to extend the famine out West

Published 29/08/2015 | 02:30

Aidan O'Shea's powerhouse runs could batter Dublin's defence into submission
Aidan O'Shea's powerhouse runs could batter Dublin's defence into submission

If the scoring averages from the seven games Dublin and Mayo have played so far in the championship are merged, they point to a 2-16 to 1-17 win for Jim Gavin's squad tomorrow.

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The formula involved isn't exactly at the sharp ending of scientific sophistication but the winning margin - if not the actual scoreline - may be fairly accurate.

So too could the choice of Dublin as the winners.

For while there's a fresh confidence in Mayo, backed up by a sense that destiny may have chosen this year to release them from their All-Ireland misery, cold pragmatism still suggests that Dublin have more about them. The sides go into the game with unusually high scoring averages (Dublin 3-21, Mayo 3-18) and equally low concession rates (Dublin 0-14, Mayo 1-11) so something has to give.

Will it be the Dublin defence, battered into submission by Aidan O'Shea's powerhouse runs?

Or will Dublin be undermined by the brittleness which infected them so disastrously against Donegal in last year's semi-final?

The likelihood is that neither will be as influential a factor as is generally expected.

Marauding

It's asking a lot of O'Shea to continue his marauding ways as successfully as he did against Galway, Sligo and Donegal, especially since Gavin and co will have spent hours plotting a means of cutting off his supply lines.

And if they succeed in forcing O'Shea away from goal in search of possession, will Mayo's alternative plan to pick the Dublin locks work?

They found it difficult enough to unhinge Galway in the Connacht semi-final, scarcely the best of signs against a defence not noted for its meanness.

Of course, Mayo have improved since then and the manner in which they wore down Donegal, the high kings of durability, three weeks ago suggests that they are perfectly primed for an even bigger test.

But then, so too are Dublin. Little of any value can be gauged from their wins over Longford, Kildare, Westmeath and Fermanagh since. In all cases, they were facing much lower-ranked opposition.

Dublin have not been tested to any great degree so far but that's not the drawback some would have you believe.

After all, they stood up very well to the spring examination against Division 1 opposition, winning the Allianz League title for a third successive year.

And, with the exception of the 2012 and 2014 All-Ireland semi-final, Dublin's championship form has been super-consistent since the start of the 2011 season, with 24 wins and two defeats from 26 championship games.

Mayo have been very solid in the same period, winning 20, losing four and drawing one of 25 games, but the worrying reality for them is that they still failed to break through the All-Ireland barrier.

The margins were close but the end result has been the same, much to their frustration.

It's a pattern that could apply again tomorrow as Mayo stretch Dublin all the way before coming up short on the tightest of margins.

Dublin - S Cluxton; J Cooper, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, D Bastick; P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly; D Rock, P Andrews, B Brogan .

Mayo - D Clarke; G Cafferkey, D Vaughan, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Barrett, C Boyle; S O'Shea, T Parsons; D O'Connor, A O'Shea, K McLoughlin; B Moran, C O'Connor, J Doherty.

Irish Independent

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