Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ciaran Whelan: Make one tactical change and Mayo will banish the Kingdom

Aidan O'Shea battles with Donaghy last week and (inset) Donal Vaughan
Aidan O'Shea battles with Donaghy last week and (inset) Donal Vaughan

Ciaran Whelan

AS a neutral last Sunday I was quite happy when the final whistle went.

Whilst many of Mayo and Kerry supporters were probably more worried about their blood pressure going into injury-time, all I wanted was a draw.

Not because I had it backed in the bookies, because I didn’t, but I genuinely wanted to see these two great teams go at it once again.

It was a fascinating tacticle battle. Aidan O’Shea (pictured with Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy)has dominated the headlines this week again but at least this time it is a constructive debate around whether he was effective in his role on the pitch in tracking Donaghy.

With Mayo manager Stephen Rochford bombarded with criticism this week, it is a natural parochial reaction for the Mayo folk to defend their man. They have done their best to tell us it had merits and it was not an utter disaster. 

I can see the some logic behind the original decision from Rochford but let’s be honest here, it did not work out as planned at all.

O’Shea played with fear of the position he was to occupy because he was so uncomfortable in a specialist role.

So will Rochford stick to his guns?

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If he does, O’Shea needs to physically give it to Donaghy. He cannot stand off him. Play from in front and get stuck into Donaghy physically.

Let him know he in a game with a few hard hits. His role is to nullify Donaghy’s influence not stand off him inviting him to play. 

Personally, I think Mayo should rethink their tactic and trust a defender like Donal Vaughan to drag Donaghy into a dog fight.

For Kerry, they must improve radically in defence and offer some protection to a full-back line that was hung out to dry last weekend.

If they change defensively and keep a presence in the half-forward line they will improve and still have the firepower to do damage.

However, I think Mayo are improving every week and could be the team that will want it more in the heat of battle.

The six-day turnaround will benefit Mayo more in their mental preparations.

If O’Shea is given the chance to play to his strengths and Lee Keegan pulls Paul Murphy into a deeper position to attack the goal, then Mayo could end up one step away from the promised land.   

Herald Sport

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