Saturday 19 October 2019

Dubs are homing in on Mayo

Allianz NFL Div 1

Rory Kerr

The passing last week of John Morrison was deeply felt in Mayo.

It was in 2006 that himself and Mickey Moran masterminded the westerners to an epic win over Dublin in the All Ireland semi-final.

Before the game, Mayo had taken the brave decision to warm up at the Hill 16 end, which didn't go down well with the Dublin management.

Morrison himself felt the wrath of Paul Caffrey who shoulder-charged the Armagh native (although they remained close off the field in the following years) in some chaotic moments before the throw-in.

It was a indication of how protective Dublin were of their territory. Some 13 years on and Dublin have turned Croke Park into their fortress.

This has irked many, especially Donegal who have been put out by Dublin's dual status when it comes to the GAA headquarters, as they used it as both a neutral and home venue during last season's Super Eight series.

That may well change this summer should a motion to change Dublin's status pass - the indications are that it has a strong chance of being carried.

Take this season. Dublin have lost both of their games outside of the capital. Yes they are only four weeks back training and yes they have started their first three games without captain and influential goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton, as was the case in 2015.

But the consensus is that outside of their comfort zone Dublin are less of a formidable prospect. Admittedly they had Kerry to the pin of their collars in the closing stages of their league clash down in Tralee last Saturday week, before a fisted Peter Crowley point handed the Kingdom their third successive win of the campaign.

But for long portions of the game, Kerry were the dominant force, with Sean O'Shea again in excellent form.

That defeat left Dublin under pressure to qualify for their seventh successive league decider, and as such Saturday's double-header at Croke Park (Mick Bohan's ladies team kick off proceedings at 5pm against the same opposition) is a must-win for Jim Gavin's men.

They should be favourites to maintain their dominance over current league leaders Mayo, despite their good run under James Horan who is in his second spell with the Connacht men.

Since 2012 Dublin have enjoyed a 10-game unbeaten run against them. Mayo, though, are flying under Horan and notched up their third win of the campaign following a five-point success against Cavan.

Keith Higgins' stylish goal against Tyrone is indicative of the confidence Mayo are playing with at the moment, but expect Dublin to win out here.

Meanwhile, Dublin ladies will be aiming to build on their win over Tipperary when they take on Mayo in the curtain-raiser, which is a repeat of last year's Division 1 Final.

After a shaky start against Donegal at the start of the month, Dublin opened their account against Tipp and they will be hoping that 2018 Player of the Year nominee Lyndsey Davey can maintain her good run in front of goal, having hit the back of the net in Dublin's opening two games.

Fingal Independent