Monday 19 August 2019

'I don’t know why managers don’t do it more often' - Why Mayo should do a 'Peter Canavan' against Dublin

Will Andy Moran start for Mayo against Dublin? Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Will Andy Moran start for Mayo against Dublin? Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

With Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Mayo clearly the marquee clash of the championship so far, could Mayo’s "Plan D" to tackle the All-Ireland champions potentially take a leaf out of the Tyrone playbook circa 2003?

That was the question posed by the Sunday World’s John Brennan to David Brady on this week’s The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s weekly GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy, in relation to Mayo veteran Andy Moran.

"What do Mayo do on Saturday night with Andy Moran?" Brennan asked.

"They have three options: They can start him and take him off.

"They can keep him in reserve and bring him on.

"Or the third option they have is they can do a Peter Canavan on it, which is start him, bring him off and bring him on again and hope that Mayo are in the game the last 15 minutes."

The tactic was famously used in the 2003 All-Ireland final when, with Canavan carrying an ankle injury into the game, Mickey Harte started him, withdrew him for further treatment at half-time before re-introducing him where his cool head was vital in seeing out the final ten minutes of Tyrone’s maiden All-Ireland triumph.

While Moran has generally been introduced from the bench or been replaced in the games he has started, Brady believes the tactic most famously used by Harte could be considered.

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"I don’t know why managers don’t do it more often for certain players," he responded.

"I’m of the firm belief that Andy can last 70 minutes, I think it’s ingrained in our own minds that he’s always taken off.

"It’s a team game and if it’s a case of sacrificing Andy until ten minutes into the second half or at half time, you know that Andy can concentrate on that. I’ve been in situations where managers have said ‘I don’t care what’s happening in this game, you’re coming on at half-time’. It gets you focussed.

"I think Andy Moran has to finish the game."

With Mayo having been forced to utilise a huge number of their panel during their run due to injuries to others, there’s the potential to reap the benefit of those players returning to fitness at the right time. Having had an easy run through Leinster and the Super 8s, the champions are yet to be stretched over a full 70 minutes this summer. And similarly to 2017 when Mayo were taken to extra-time in qualifiers by both Derry and Cork, the level they seem to reach against Dublin, regardless of their form beforehand, could prove a critical factor.

"I do think now that Seamie and Aidan O’Shea have a hold of things from a midfield perspective, and that the quality and amount of ball going into the full-forward line has dramatically improved in three of the last four games and especially in the last two," Brady concluded.

"There’s the added benefit of maybe putting Aidan (O’Shea) in a deeper role if Matthew [Ruane] comes in and plays a good forty or fifty minutes of the game. But have we got a Plan D, a plan for Dublin?

"That long high ball into the defensive D has and will call them problems. You have Philly, Johnny Cooper, Rory O'Carroll, guys that are well experienced. But will they have the legs to last for a full 70 minutes at full Croke Park intensity in an All-Ireland semi-final? They haven’t had that intensity in a long long time.

"In the last 20 minutes of each and every league game Mayo have had against Dublin, they’ve got absolutely annihilated. But whatever it is about this Mayo team, the higher you raise that bar, the more they relish it. I don’t know what height they can clear that bar, but I do know they can compete and give us a phenomenal game next Saturday."

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