Friday 19 January 2018

Croker set for epic shoot-out

High-scoring exploits of Dublin and Mayo raise hopes of attacking classic

Dublin's Bernard Brogan in action against Ger Cafferkey, Mayo
Dublin's Bernard Brogan in action against Ger Cafferkey, Mayo
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Dublin's 24th or Mayo's fourth? The battle lines are drawn as the countdown quickens to tomorrow's All-Ireland football final which has been given an extra special dimension by the high-scoring exploits of both teams.

Dublin and Mayo have blitzed defences with unprecedented fury as they powered their way through five victories each to set up the first final between the counties since 1921.

Mayo averaged the remarkably high return of 3-16 in their wins over Galway, Roscommon, London, Donegal and Tyrone but Dublin were only one point behind (2-18) in beating Westmeath, Kildare, Meath, Cork and Kerry.

It points to the possibility of a very high-scoring shoot-out in what are likely to be perfect weather conditions – although history shows that the scoring rate tends to drop in All-Ireland finals, even among teams who have been highly productive earlier on.

The highest aggregate total in an All-Ireland final is 45 points (Cork 3-17, Galway 2-13 in 1973) but that final was played over 80 minutes.

The odds on the total score exceeding 40 points tomorrow are 9/4.

Mayo are boosted by the availability of top scorer Cillian O'Connor, who has recovered from a shoulder injury. He has already kicked 6-14 and needs a further five points to move to the top of the championship leaderboard ahead of Cavan's Martin Dunne, who finished on 1-33. Bernard Brogan is Dublin's top scorer on 1-16.

Dublin last won the title two years ago, while Mayo are attempting to bridge a 62-year gap since Sean Flanagan captained them to their third All-Ireland win in 1951. Since then, they have lost six All-Ireland finals but go into tomorrow's game with a good championship record against Dublin, whom they beat in their last two clashes, in 2006 and 2012.

Throw-in is at 3.30 and the game will be preceded by the minor final between Mayo and Tyrone (1.15). Mayo are attempting to become the first county to win the senior-minor double since Tyrone in 2008.

Irish Independent

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