Friday 23 March 2018

Alan Brogan: Five things Mayo need to do to beat Dublin in the All-Ireland final replay

An Garda Siochana have issued a bizarre travel warning ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland replay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
An Garda Siochana have issued a bizarre travel warning ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland replay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Shea celebrates Cillian O'Connor's equalising point. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Alan Brogan

Alan Brogan highlights the areas where Mayo must improve and, indeed, succeed, if they are to topple Dublin in next weekend’s All Ireland SFC final replay.

1. Match and surpass the level of intensity

Mayo need to bring the same level of commitment and aggression as last Sunday. Lee Keegan sacrificed his own game to try and nullify Diarmuid Connolly. Lee is getting away with more than he should be but he and his team-mates will do what it takes.

All over the place they were in the faces of Dublin players. When Brendan Harrison dispossessed Bernard in the first few minutes, he followed this up with a shoulder bump stating his intentions for the day. Cillian O’Connor and Jason Doherty flew into everything they could in the Dublin back line. More of the same will be required.

2. Score goals

Despite last weekend I think Mayo will need to score at least a goal or two to lift Sam Maguire on Saturday. Last Sunday they only had one decent opportunity which Andy Moran spurned.

 The Dublin full-back line have been quite solid this year so Mayo will need to try something different to raise a major. They struggled to get runners through to create those overlaps we associate with Mayo’s game. A little bit more adventure and Mayo could have some joy here.

3. Get more Support to the full-forward line

Mayo kicked the ball to their full-forward line more than Dublin last Sunday. It did seem a ploy to try and launch some diagonal balls into Andy Moran and Aidan O’Shea. The weather certainly did favour the long ball but the Mayo full-forward line struggled to retain them. For the ones they did hold on to, the supporting cavalry were so far back that Dublin’s superior numbers were able to dispossess them quite easily.

The two guys mentioned above are two of the best ball-winners in the game. Providing it is dry next Saturday, they are capable of winning those diagonal balls; after that they will draw the attention of Dublin’s retreating sweeper which will leaves holes for support runners to get on the shoulder of the primary ball-winners. They will need to get the support up quicker than last week though.

4. Make correct decisions under pressure

The All-Ireland final brings huge pressure and guys can do things they normally wouldn’t. At some crucial stages last Sunday, Mayo players did silly things, both on and off the ball, that could have cost their team dearly. Aidan O’Shea’s speculative effort in the final moments should have spelled the last chance for Mayo, Colm Boyle lost Dean Rock far too easily for Dublin’s second goal, and Tom Parsons gave away some soft possession. I’m sure Mayo will analyse these moments in the game and try to eradicate them the next day.

Finals are won and lost on very small margins and it’s important to make every play, possession and tackle count because you never know when it will be the one that costs you. In 2011, Killian Young played a loopy hand pass which we intercepted and that led to Kev Mac’s goal. There were still 11 minutes to play but that was the simple moment on which an All-Ireland final turned.

5. Get more from Aidan O’Shea

Aidan O’Shea is a colossus. However, Mayo didn’t seem to get much from him last Sunday. I think his shot at the end was evidence of the frustration he was feeling himself. Aidan O’Shea in a positive, confident frame of mind wouldn’t have taken that shot on. He is the one man who has the ability to draw the attention of two or three Dublin defenders at a time. This inevitably leaves men free around him and in dangerous positions. He could take a leaf from Kieran Donaghy’s book and watch how he uses all his size and experience to win possession and then offloads to a man coming towards the goal, resulting in simple score.

 Aidan’s first instinct is usually to win it and turn to go at the goal or try to draw a free. If he is one-on-one this is fine, but more often than not Philly McMahon has the help of Cian O’Sullivan or another team-mate. Aidan’s greatest gift to this Mayo team may be to focus on the ball-winning, sucking defenders in and then simply offloading to other attackers. At the moment, I think he is too predictable and makes it too easy for Dublin defenders to mark.

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