Friday 19 January 2018

Connolly forced to bide time as Dubs unchanged

Diarmuid Connolly not in the named team
Diarmuid Connolly not in the named team

Dermot Crowe

Diarmuid Connolly has been omitted from the Dublin team named yesterday afternoon to play Mayo in today's All-Ireland football final in Croke Park, as Jim Gavin's men attempt to claim a three-in-row last achieved by Kerry in 1986.

GAA team releases are no longer gospel, often at variance with the team that eventually takes the field - the Dublin team named for the semi-final against Tyrone had a late change before the throw-in when Eric Lowndes did not start, and was replaced by Niall Scully.

Connolly, however, may well be kept in reserve after only making a 69th-minute appearance against Tyrone; he has not started a game since the win over Carlow on June 3, when he picked up a suspension as a result of an incident with a linesman, and has only been seen for those brief moments near the end of Dublin's 12-point semi-final win.

The team named for today's final is the same one that started the semi-final, with Paul Flynn also listed on the bench despite showing a startling return to form when introduced for Scully after 44 minutes against Tyrone. It would not be a surprise if he were a late inclusion after his three-point contribution in around 25 minutes three weeks ago. Dublin replaced five of their forwards that day but the match was so one-sided that none were as a result of the team being under pressure.

Bernard Brogan failed to get a run against Tyrone yet he could come back into contention in a tight match today.

Con O'Callaghan is in the spotlight after scoring a brilliant goal against Tyrone and part of a growing list of attackers Mayo must cope with if they are to deny Dublin a 27th All-Ireland title.

Mayo, chasing their first win since 1951, have an injury scare over Diarmuid O'Connor, with Patrick Durcan on stand-by if he fails to pass a fitness test.

Dublin are warm favourites to become the first team from the capital to win three consecutive All-Irelands since 1923. They have achieved it three times: 1897-99, 1906-08 and 1921-23.

The GAA confirmed on Friday that today's double bill - the curtain-raiser is the All-Ireland minor final between Derry and Kerry - is a sell-out. A spokesperson for the Association also said that spectators should arrive at Croke Park early as bag search procedures will be in place and reminded all patrons not to bring large bags or backpacks.

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