Dublin's tactics as baffling as lethal kinsale roundabout
Published 21/08/2010 | 05:00
The Kinsale Roundabout is more dangerous than any road in Kabul. There are signs, snakes, ladders and caveman-style aeroplanes painted on to the tar, but the graphics are as jumbled as spaghetti letters.
The road squeezes up like the arteries of a man who has his dinner in a chipper and you have to rev through a gap no bigger than the eye of a newt at the same time looking out for traffic with your head turned round like your one in the Exorcist who upset her mother.
To make matters worse, the roundabout is the main feeder for Kinsale and Cork Airport. God only knows how foreigners get through it. It's lethal.
My left arm tightened up as if in the grip of a hydraulic python as I drove through the tragic roundabout this week. Later, my doctor told me the 24-hour blood-pressure monitor showed I was clinically dead.
And I can't figure out the alignment of the Dublin defence either.
They have more sweepers than Dublin Corporation on the morning after St Patrick's Day. Dublin allowed Tyrone to kick at least 15 short kick-outs without a challenge. It's a tactic we have never seen before. We were always taught that defence starts in your own full-forward line.
There's always the chance of a turnover, but more importantly it gives your backs time to get on their men and forces the opposition defenders to kick under pressure. It's hard enough to win the ball anywhere on the pitch and if Cork use the soft possession properly, Dublin will be slaughtered.
That said, Dublin tackle like men who are watching the past annihilations against Kerry and Tyrone on the big screen.
The Dublin management had to come out with a new plan after a display of U-10 defending against Meath. Two Dublin players jumped for the same ball. Goal. There was more ball-watching than you'd get at the world snooker final and Dublin were a lost cause in a fog of confusion.
The scenic route was their salvation and the Dubs were magnificent against Tyrone. It's all about momentum. Dublin have a very good forward line. Alan Brogan has had a tough year with injuries. His manager took him off against Tyrone and then brought him back on again. It makes no sense. Brogan should be left on all the time, even if he's playing badly. Alan is always capable of winning the game in a split second. I think we'll see him at his best tomorrow. His baby brother Bernard has been outstanding and as the game opens up, he will find space.
Cork play one-on-one and that will suit Dublin. Cork badly miss Anthony Lynch and their leader Canty can't be right. O'Gara is direct and smart. Cullen has finally found a home. He is a gifted footballer who can score and he has that bit of badness in him every team needs.
The Cork forward line is full of honest, hard-working players and at times they can open up any defence, but they are all of a like standard. They do not have a forward who would be on the all-time greats fantasy teams. There's no Jimmy Barry- Murphy, Gooch, O'Rourke or Canavan. All-Ireland-winning teams usually have a stand-out, unmarkable forward. Cork tend to kick wides under pressure and Dublin with the congested back-line will block, harry and hassle like Jack Russells in the mouse house at Dublin Zoo.
They are more physical than Cork, but overall I believe Cork have the better footballers.
Their half-backs will attack from those concession kick-outs and will cause serious damage.
Managers will tell you their input is not that important. Not true. The manager is the man who calls the shots. With the good ones you have a huge advantage. Counihan and Gilroy's tactics will decide the game.
We went to Tyrone in search of Mickey Harte, the best of them all. Well, not really. I was up north for the wedding of the lovely Danny and the even lovelier Tracey.
We stopped in McKennas of Augher after researching in Moynas and McCaigues of friendly Scotstown. Three famous GAA pubs. McKennas is home to several Tyrone players. Eugene was the best of them. Eugene was one of the unmarkables.
What an evening we had. I stood on the table and announced Sam was in NAMA now Kerry were out. And I got the Tyrone view on Dublin -- the inside track through the roundabout. And what did the canny northerners tell me in McKennas?
So you will have to rely on my own thoughts. My gut tells me Dublin will win but my head goes for Cork. I just can't fathom the idea of giving the kick-outs away so cheaply.
However, Cork can have terrible days at their shooting on this ground. Cork did very well against Tyrone's massed defence last year, but this season they haven't come near that standard. Cork lack confidence. Dublin lack cop. Perfection only comes in pint glasses in McKennas and they really are two excellent teams. We could be in for a thriller in what could be the All-Ireland final.
There are so many imponderables, the result could well be a million-euro draw. There's a lot of fencing in to be paid for around Croke Park. Any surplus should be sent to the Cork roads department -- forthwith.