Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 11 December 2017

All-Ireland final jury

Michael Darragh Macauley

Mayo have been exceptionally strong around midfield, but will face a different type of challenge in Macauley's running game. He will be trying to use it with maximum power and make the O'Shea brothers think defensively.

Donal Vaughan

His forward runs have yielded two goals, while also regularly setting Mayo on the front foot. Dublin will try to make him work as a full-time defender, a role Vaughan (right) hasn't really had to fulfil so far this year. He will need to be ready for it.The Mayo half-backs have been allowed to indulge their adventurous side so far this year. Dublin will believe there's profit to be had by taking them on with angled inter-changes and real pace.Kerry attacked the gap between the Dublin full-back and half-back lines very effectively and found it much less cluttered than is generally the case in the modern game. Mayo will push their half-backs into attacking spaces to test if Dublin have closed the gap.This was a lower-scoring game than the 'paths to final' scores recorded by both teams suggest. Mayo (average score 3-16) v Dublin (2-18) suggests a high-yield shoot-out, but a total of around 17 points is the norm for All-Ireland final winners.Michael Darragh Macauley

In the absence of a traditional, high-fetching midfielder, Dublin rely massively on Macauley's aggression, work rate and selfless running in the middle third. Peerless ability to mop up breaking ball and handling skills inherited from the basketball court more than make up for a faintly leggy, unorthodox style.

Keith Higgins

A career corner-back now, nominally, centre-forward in James Horan's system, Higgins is the perfect prototype of the modern footballer. Fitness to burn with wonderful vision and tactile ability while running at pace, he is the glue that holds much of Mayo's tactical strategy together. Good outside bet to snipe a goal.

Very simple, history. All the sports psychology in the world cannot possibly immunise Mayo against a worry that old ghosts might rise up to haunt them. Most of the current team's parents weren't even alive the last time the county won Sam Maguire and Dublin will hope that a fast start will unlock generations of demons in Mayo minds.

The apparent conceit convincing Jim Gavin's team that, whatever tally they concede, their forwards will better it. Dublin have been profligate in this championship and, against a defence averaging the concession of just over 11 points per game, they now need to be a little more circumspect. Mayo will, no doubt, interpret Dublin's confidence as careless arrogance.

This game follows the trail of the hurling final and ends in a draw. These two are clearly the form teams of the championship, both racking up hefty scores almost at will. It would be surprising if an outbreak of mutual respect doesn't thus, lead to a prevailing tentativeness. The game is unlikely to be free-flowing and could lead to a nervy stalemate.

Bernard Brogan

The player who can split these teams. He hasn't been at his best throughout the championship, but had a big spike in form the last day against his old adversary Marc O Se. Looks primed for another big performance.Alan Dillon

He hasn't been as influential this term as he has in other seasons for Mayo and hasn't gone well in his last two finals. But Dublin are a team he goes well against and a spell at centre-forward could produce a seasonal best from him.Mayo have yet to play against a team in this championship that counter- attacks as quickly as Dublin. If their defenders get dragged too far forward they may not be able to plug the gaps as quickly and Dublin can exploit that.Their full-back line. Dublin had to make positional switches early on against Meath and Kildare, while a personnel switch was required against Kerry. It turns out to be the classic match we all anticipate it to be. It's almost impossible to fail on that front with the propensity of both teams to attack. Stephen Cluxton

He pioneered the swift kick-out with accuracy, is a seventh defender in live play, reads angles well and contributes to the scoreboard. Most 'keepers are shot-stoppers, but Cluxton (right) redefined the role and, uniquely, leads from behind.Aidan O'Shea

Colm Boyle is their unsung hero, but if they're to win O'Shea will be vital. He has finally added fitness and excellent work rate to his natural skill and his ball-winning is critical. He's just got to be careful discipline-wise as an early yellow would be disastrous.Their corner-backs. They're very good going forward or in holding roles, but not as impressive on the back foot. They coughed up too much – from play and frees – against Tyrone. Bernard Brogan and Paul Mannion, not to mention Dublin's supersubs, will look to run at them.

Their midfield. It is good, but unorthodox, with two runners rather than big fielders. The O'Shea brothers give Mayo a physical advantage there which they'll want to exploit in order to get their half-backs coming off their shoulders – because Keegan, Vaughan and Boyle have scored 2-12 this season.Keith Higgins started at corner-back. Dispossessing opposing backs with their high-intensity 'full-court' press was Mayo's new ace card this year. Sitting off Tyrone initially back-fired and putting Higgins at corner-back again would not only strengthen Mayo's full-back line, but also allow them play their pressing game.Michael Darragh Macauley

It's a sad reflection on the modern game that a player who can't kick the ball properly is in the running for Player of the Year. Despite his kicking difficulties, he's an excellent tackler, has a great engine and stands up when the Dubs need him. He will be vital for competing for possession against the O'Sheas on Sunday

Cillian O'Connor

It's hard to believe Cillian is still only 21 years old. He seems to have been around for so long and the Mayo attack really depends on his scoring. He's notched 6-14 in less than two and a half games which is a phenomenal return. Without him close to goal and kicking frees Mayo's chances decrease dramatically.

Mayo's tradition in finals. I'm sure Jim Gavin will be stressing the need for a quick start and hoping for doubts to creep into the Mayo players minds.

Dublin's attacking philosophy leaves their defence exposed and in one-on-one situations their full-back line struggles. Johnny Cooper is a tenacious defender, but is a natural wing-back, so might struggle if pitted against Cillian O'Connor tomorrow.

Philly McMahon (left) – starting in place of Kevin O'Brien – gives Cillian O'Connor's shoulder 'a test' in the early part of the game.Bernard Brogan

This game is tailor-made for Brogan to rise to the occasion and cause mayhem in the Mayo defence. If he gets his eye in early and kicks some good points his confidence will flow and the whole Dublin team can feed off his exampleAlan Freeman

Everyone says the Dubs weak point is their full back line, and Freeman could cause them major problems, particularly if he plunders an early goal. He should get enough possession from the forward-raiding Mayo half backs and midfielders, so it's up to him to capitalise on any chances he gets.As the game goes on, how will the Mayo back line deal with repeated attacks at pace down the flanks by the Dubs. The likes of Jack McCaffrey can burn off defenders and if the Dubs keep breaking out of their own half at speed, cracks could appear in the Mayo back line.The same as Kerry: the defensive screen in front of Stephen Cluxton's goal. Mayo will believe that if they can only expose the Dubs full-back line, whether through the centre or the wings, they can be good value for a goal or two which could be decisive.A: The game ends up as a draw. There really is little to choose between the teams and when it comes to the crunch, they could play themselves to a standstill and need a second game. B: If there aren't a couple of red cards, should the referee get fussy with yellow cards too early in the game.Stephen Cluxton

He has the most important on-field job of monitoring the movement of the Mayo forwards and ensuring his own defenders take the necessary action. Secondly, his use of kick-outs, of which there will probably be about 25, can deprive Mayo of much expected possession by the O'Sheas.Andy Moran

There is speculation that he may not have the physical or mental sharpness of a peak player because of the hangover from his injury. He must play very well as a leader to ensure doubts about Mayo's attack do not surface in the first-half. The fact that everybody assumes that the Mayo backline is the best in the country this year. But it has not been tested like Dublin's and a Dublin smash-and-grab of scores early on could shatter that defence.The Dublin full-back line in particular and their whole defence as a unit. Will they man-mark or play dashing exuberant football thereby leaving gaps for Mayo to exploit?Aidan O'Shea played some part of the game at full-forward. This could be to exploit his physical advantage in the Dublin full-back line, but more likely because the Mayo attack has not been functioning as expected and James Horan needs a Plan B.Stephen Cluxton

They don't have a ball-winning midfielder, so the importance of his kick-outs can't be underestimated. Then, of course, there's the added bonus of his free-taking.Aidan O'Shea

HE has become a beast of a midfielder. He has everything and he could be Mayo's match-winner. I genuinely believe O'Shea (right) has the potential to become one of the greats.

Mayo's forwards don't cope well under pressure. Their first touch can often be heavy and against Tyrone their shot selection and overall decision-making was poor in the opening half. Dublin will throw everything at them and hope that the doubts will creep in.

The two corner-backs have been exposed at times, especially under high ball. Mayo won't go high, but if they can alter their approach by becoming more direct, they may find some joy.

Both teams implemented a sweeper at some stage. They both contain ferocious running power which leads to the opportunity to create overlaps. An extra man in defence could prove vital, particularly when defending a lead in the closing stages.

Irish Independent

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