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A bridge too Farney . . . Dublin to prevail

HOW have we reached a situation whereby, in a once-off 
championship game where the winner takes all, one of the teams (Dublin) is listed at 1/16 and the handicap is nine points?

In truth, it is based on Dublin's excellence this season in rail-roading all before them with hugely impressive displays and equally impressive winning margins.

Throw in the impact and contribution of their very own special team of substitutes and you have a winning formula that no team can yet decipher.

Watching Monaghan defeat Kildare, and in fairness struggle to do so, my mind started drifting to how they might cope with Dublin.

On the face of it, it looks an impossible challenge and hence the odds and handicap numbers.

Drill a bit deeper and you note that Monaghan have only one week to physically and mentally recover from the championship test the Kildare men provided. And of course the game went into extra-time - more stress on those tired limbs.

If you are Malachy O'Rourke, what game-plan will you come up with?

Well, it certainly won't be a naïve one - and their well-tried and tested blanket plus some additional coverage will be rolled out.

It means they will struggle to get a winning score but alarmingly, as Kildare showed last weekend, attacks with pace and fast hands realised 
2-10 in normal time.

Dublin are even faster with and without the ball and so are likely to find weak stitching in the Monaghan blanket. The threat Dublin pose with players of the calibre of the Brogans, McManamon, Flynn and Connolly overshadows the Kildare offensive threat to the point of total eclipse.

But a Dublin win is unlikely to be straightforward and they must first establish the right to win. This will be a bruising and attritional phase of the game where each and every ball will be fiercely contested and certainly not an opening quarter for the faint-hearted.


Dublin will know the Monaghan set-up by now: four banks of three and a two-man full forward line. It hardly matters who Monaghan actually select to start, the approach will not vary greatly.

If Monaghan are to exert any real pressure on the scoreboard, it will come in the form of a large dividend from their freetakers.

With Dublin noted as a team that fouls too quickly when under pressure, expect Rory Beggan, Conor McManus and Paul Finlay to accumulate their standard quantity - over 50pc of their points tally comes from placed balls.

No doubt Dublin will have focussed on this and the safe prediction is: if the Dubs curb their tendency to foul close to goal they will win easily and perhaps beat the handicap; if not they will still win but by a tighter margin. Either way, once again, the favourites will prevail.