Tuesday 24 September 2019

Martin Breheny: 'What's behind a manager can be as important as starting 15'

Mickey Harte chatting with Peter Canavan before his return to the pitch. Photo: Sportsfile
Mickey Harte chatting with Peter Canavan before his return to the pitch. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Should Kerry start Tommy Walsh on Sunday? Arising from his sizeable contribution after coming on as a sub against Tyrone in the semi-final, there's a view that he should be given a starting role, with a brief to use his height, power and vast experience to test the Dublin full-back line.

How will Jim Gavin use his vast range of off-the-bench talent? Cian O'Sullivan Eoin Murchan, Cormac Costello, Philly McMahon, Diarmuid Connolly and Paddy Andrews got the call against Mayo.

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Kevin McManamon has regularly filled the role of Dublin super-sub. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin McManamon has regularly filled the role of Dublin super-sub. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

That left Kevin McManamon, the ultimate super-sub, without a run, underlining the depth of Dublin's reserves.

The following are 10 examples of subs who made a dramatic impact on All-Ireland finals, stretching back to Seamus Darby in 1982.

2016: Cormac Costello (Dublin)

There was so much drama in the second game, including Mayo switching goalkeepers for the replay, a decision which backfired spectacularly, that it would be easy to forget Costello's dramatic intervention after coming in as a sub for McManamon in the 56th minute. He kicked three quick-fire points, making him Dublin's highest scorer from play in their 1-15 to 1-14 win.

2011: Kevin McManamon (Dublin)

How much of an impact on the football landscape did his 64th-minute goal have? Leading by four points after outscoring their rivals by 0-8 to 0-3 in the second half, Kerry looked to be on their way to extending their unbeaten championship run against Dublin to 10 games when McManamon, who had come in for Paul Flynn at the three-quarter stage, scored a spectacular goal.

Maurice Fitzgerald is handed his substitute’s slip by Páidí Ó Sé in 2000. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Maurice Fitzgerald is handed his substitute’s slip by Páidí Ó Sé in 2000. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

It was the catalyst for a Dublin surge, which powered them to their first All-Ireland title since 1995. It also changed the dynamic with Kerry, who have now lost four successive championship games to Dublin. It all started with McManamon's goal and a 1-11 to 1-10 win.

2010: Nicholas Murphy (Cork)

Outsiders Down led Cork by three points at half-time, at which stage Rebels manager Conor Counihan sent Murphy in at midfield in place of Alan O'Connor.

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It was probably a match-saving move as Murphy produced a majestic half-hour before being forced out with an ankle injury. Cork won by a point (0-16 to 0-15).

2005: Peter Canavan (Tyrone)

He started, was replaced and returned. And then he retired. Quite a day for probably the best forward Tyrone ever produced as they beat Kerry for the second time in three seasons.

Seamus Darby came on to hit a famous goal for Offaly in 1982 against Kerry. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Seamus Darby came on to hit a famous goal for Offaly in 1982 against Kerry. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile

He scored a crucial goal late in the first half before being withdrawn at half-time to conserve energy. It worked well as it left him rejuvenated when he returned with 20 minutes remaining.

He played an important role in steadying Tyrone after Kerry came within a point of them in the 57th minute. The Red Hand saw it through, winning by three points (1-16 to 2-10).

2003: Stephen O'Neill (Tyrone)

That he wasn't in the starting 15 underlined the range of options available to Mickey Harte, but he was sent into action just before half-time, much to the discomfort of the Armagh defence. His work-rate and clever positioning caused all sorts of problems and he also shot two points in a 0-12 to 0-9 win, which brought Tyrone their first All-Ireland title.

2000: Kevin Walsh (Galway)

The drawn final with Kerry was galloping away from Galway when John O'Mahony sent in Walsh, who had injury problems that year, for Joe Bergin after 20 minutes.

Kerry led by seven points shortly afterwards before Walsh was at the heart of a spirited revival which earned Galway a draw (0-14 each). Indeed, Galway missed a late chance to snatch victory.

2000: Maurice Fitzgerald (Kerry)

Many Kerry supporters felt he should have been on the starting teams that season. However, his role was confined to impact sub, with one of his big contributions coming in the closing 20 minutes of the All-Ireland final replay against Galway, which Kerry won by 0-17 to 1-10.

1993: Dermot McNicholl (Derry)

Brought in at half-time as Derry sought to exploit their numerical advantage after Cork defender Tony Davis had been sent off in a harsh decision late in the first half, McNicholl did very well as Eamonn Coleman's men plotted their way to a first All-Ireland final success on a 1-14 to 2-8 scoreline.

1991: Colm O'Rourke (Meath)

This substitution didn't produce a happy ending for the Royals, but O'Rourke's impact was enormous in a game where they trailed Down by 11 points after 50 minutes, before cutting the deficit to two (1-16 to 1-14) just before the finish.

Illness had prevented O'Rourke from starting, but he came on in the second half to lead a great revival which came very close to saving the day for Meath in what was their 10th championship game of the season.

1982: Seamus Darby (Offaly)

The most famous substitution of all, one that resonates to this day, as his stunning goal wrecked Kerry's five-in-a-row hopes in 1982 (1-15 to 0-17).

He will, no doubt, deal in his forthcoming autobiography with its impact at the time and also on him personally over the following years.

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