Friday 24 November 2017

Jimmy Keaveney: Every neutral wants Mayo to do it – but Dubs' strength is immense

I WAS down in Kerry at the Listowel races this week – I go every year – and, as usual, everywhere you went people were talking about football and wanted to talk about football.

What I noticed particularly was that everyone I met, outside of Dubliners, was hoping Mayo would win. I don't know if that's because of their particular history in All-Ireland finals.

Maybe it is, but it certainly looks like everyone outside of Dublin will be shouting for Mayo tomorrow. No change there then!

I didn't expect Jim Gavin to make any changes to his team given how well they've played all season.

I know they let in goals against Kerry, but they were still able to score more than the Kingdom and got the result we wanted, so I couldn't see any huge reason for making drastic changes.

There'd been some talk about replacing Ger Brennan at centre-back, but, again, I can't see the sense in that.

He's been very good all season and the last day, some of his problems with the Gooch were being created elsewhere.

If you're a centre-back and have people breaking through from midfield unmarked, you have to go to take them up. That creates a spare man elsewhere and if you look back at the semi-final there was a lot of that.

There has been a lot of talk about how good Mayo's midfield is and the O'Shea brothers have been very impressive, but I think Dublin will match them.

The O'Sheas are more of a traditional, high-catching midfield, but in the modern game, where the half-backs and half-forwards are so involved in the centre of the park, you don't necessarily have to have high fielders and we've a lot of pace in there, which is important these days.

Up front I think we definitely have the much stronger forward unit. We have six forwards who are all well able to take on their man and have got some fantastic scores this summer.

On top of that, we have players like Kevin McManamon and Dean Rock who usually make a big impact when they come in.

Dublin's strength in depth is such that we have players on the bench who can change a game when they come on and that's very important in a final.

People talk about the possibility of Mayo playing a sweeper to bottle us up, but, even if they do, I think players like Diarmuid Connolly and young Paul Mannion have the sort of pace and quality to break that system down.

I doubt Mayo will use a sweeper because they haven't really used one much this year.

I'm not a fan of sweepers. I prefer to see defenders going head-to-head with their man in a straight contest; that's what you play and watch football for.

Mayo have played a very attacking style this year, very similar to Dublin's, and I think that's partly why everyone is looking forward to this game so much.

If it is as open and attacking as the Dublin/Kerry game, then we're all in for a real treat.

Irish Independent

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