Wednesday 21 March 2018

McMahon handed first start of summer as Gavin sticks with Brennan

Ger Brennan retains his place
Ger Brennan retains his place
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

GER Brennan has held onto Dublin's centre-back spot, but Jim Gavin has made one change in defence for tomorrow's All-Ireland final.

Kevin O'Brien (Naomh Mearnog) is the man to lose out at corner-back where he is replaced by Ballymun's Philly McMahon, who gets his first start of this year's championship campaign.

When O'Brien struggled with James O'Donoghue against Kerry last time out, McMahon replaced him after just 17 minutes. Not for the first time this summer the abrasive tackler did a good job when he came in and he also chipped in with a point.

In Gavin's other big selection dilemma he has kept faith with regular centre-back Brennan, even though he struggled with Colm Cooper last time out and was replaced by regular midfielder Cian O'Sullivan in the second half.

Brennan has started every game for the Dubs this summer, and while he gave the Gooch too much room in the Kerry clash, it has been argued that few defenders could have contained him on that form.

Mayo have picked former All Star corner-back Keith Higgins at centre-forward for the final for the second game in a row but it remains to be seen if he starts there or plays a deeper role. Alan Dillon could yet start at centre-forward but neither man is as dangerous as Cooper, and Gavin has always had strong faith in Brennan.

O'Sullivan did well at centre-back in the second half against Kerry, but moving him again would have meant breaking up his midfield partnership with Michael Darragh Macauley.

The other big talking point is that supersubs Kevin McManamon and Dean Rock have once again been held in reserve to repeat their heroics off the bench.

McManamon sensationally reprised his 2011 All-Ireland final goalscoring heroics against Kerry in the semi-final, when fellow substitute Eoghan O'Gara also scored a goal.

Rock, looking to emulate the All-Ireland winning exploits of his father Barney, yet again scored two points from play against the Kingdom, something he has done in each of Dublin's five games this summer despite never starting.

That trio and McMahon contributed 2-3 of Dublin's 3-18 in the semi-final, most of it in the vital latter stages – it is that sort of bench strength that is seen as the Sky Blues' game-changer if it comes to a late dust-up.

Dublin (SF v Kerry) – S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O'Carroll, J Cooper; J McCarthy, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly; P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.

Irish Independent

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