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Cian to keep cool head

REGARDLESS of how Monaghan assemble their players in Croke Park this evening, it's a fair bet that Cian O'Sullivan will see more ball than he did in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final.

For a start, he's playing in midfield - or as a member of the "middle eight," as O'Sullivan prefers to label his menu of tasks.

Secondly, as a corner-back back in '11 in a team sticking stoically to their principles that no member of their back six would be forced upfield against a team adhering even more dogmatically to an unprecedented one-man attack, he's only half sure that he kicked a ball at all in that match.

"It felt like I didn't really play that game at all, actually," he recalls now. "I touched the ball a few times, not many though. It wasn't very enjoyable.

"Even having said that, we had three in our full-back line and McFadden was the only one up there and he still managed to get on a good bit of ball and get a few scores."

Point well made. And even if Monaghan employ a lesser brand of the same product, Conor McManus and Kieran Hughes will still occupy the fullest attentions of whichever members of the Dublin defence are tasked with their upkeep.


Against Donegal, some castigated Pat Gilroy for not unleashing his wing-backs further up field, though more mature reflection might conclude that his refusal to be shocked or awed into making concessions or playing by Jim McGuiness's rules was probably the winning of that particular game.

And while O'Sullivan accepts the theory that deviation from a game plan is tantamount to half surrender, he still thinks that day presented a set of challenges Dublin might not see again.

"That's was kind of an extreme example of it," he says.

"I think Kevin McManamon came on and made a big difference that day and he was a guy who just when he had the ball really took on players and drew men in or slipped the ball off to free men.

"I definitely think that's one of the facets with coming up against opposition that set themselves up like that."

Again, in searching for little clues as to how this evening might pan out, it has been noted that the only teams to effectively employ two sweepers against Dublin were Tyrone in the 2012 League final and Derry in the League encounter in Celtic Park.

Dublin won the first of those games by just a point after a late brace from Dean Rock and lost the second convincingly.

"Our number one priority is look at our own game first, look after our game plan and be mindful of the opposition.

bogged down

"There's a danger there in getting too bogged down in what the other team is trying to do so we just have to focus on our own game plan at the same time be aware of Monaghan's threats."

Do Dublin need to move the ball more quickly to beat the speed of those sent to help form Monaghan's 'wall?'

"That's always a thing you're trying to do - move the ball quickly as possible out of the defence into attack and get it into your scoring line.

"It's not different coming up against opposition like Monaghan. You're still trying to do that and you might have to carry the ball on a little bit more or talk on guys a little bit more. They are all things we try to do in all
our games."

"That's always a key point going into every game whether it's discipline with the opposition or the ref or the tackle or discipline in keeping to the game plan," O'Sullivan adds of Dublin's need to keep cool heads. "That's something we definitely try to focus on. It's very important to minimise any risk or exposure.

"It's no different to what we've been trying to do in the last number of games."