Tuesday 25 July 2017

Keaveney: Gavin should stick to guns and not double up on star O'Shea

Dublin legend Jimmy Keaveney
Dublin legend Jimmy Keaveney

Tom Rooney

Dubs legend Jimmy Keaveney has urged Jim Gavin not to make major tactical adjustments in a bid to curb star Mayo forward Aidan O'Shea for Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.

One of the linchpins in Kevin Heffernan's immortal Dublin side that won three All-Irelands in the 1970s, Keaveney stresses that current manager Jim Gavin would be ill-advised to deviate from the defensive approach which has served the Leinster champions so well to date.

O'Shea has been one of the summer's standout performers, producing stunning displays against Galway and Donegal, and it has been widely suggested that Dublin should deploy a sweeper or allocate two defenders to limit his influence. Keaveney strongly disagrees.

"I don't believe in that, he said. "The full-back takes him and that's his job. He can work something out with his other corner-backs, but I wouldn't put two players on him," he said.

"At that level, what's the other player you're supposed to be marking doing? He could cause you all the problems then."

Speaking in Croke Park where, alongside Jimmy Barry-Murphy, he was inducted into the GAA Hall of Fame, the two-time Footballer of the Year expressed complete confidence in the Dubs' ability to overcome Mayo, and go on to win a third All-Ireland title in five years.

Concerned

However, the famed St Vincent's full-forward is a bit concerned that Dublin have not been adequately tested in clinching a fifth Leinster title in a row, or in their lop-sided victory over Fermanagh in the quarter-finals.

"Mayo are a good team, but I think the Dublin set-up is amazing: they have a great defence, a great goalkeeper, great forwards and a very good midfield," said Keaveney.

"They've a side-line bench that would get on most county teams, and they have a great manager in Jim Gavin.

"That's the only worrying thing: they haven't been tested at all in Leinster. Their big test is coming up now on Sunday. But in saying that, they're experienced players, and they've a good manager and he'll be able to talk to them I think it's theirs to lose."

Notably modest in accepting his accolade, the 70-year-old - who was an All-Star on three occasions - fondly remembered those he played with and against during his 14 years in the Dublin jersey.

"The number of great players I played with, the number of great players I played against . . . when I think of them I feel very humbled myself getting it," he said.

Irish Independent

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