Monday 20 November 2017

Odds slashed on Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly NOT starting All-Ireland final

Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly, 20, started from the bench in the semi-final win over Tyrone
Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly, 20, started from the bench in the semi-final win over Tyrone
Frank Roche

Frank Roche

Both teams are reporting a clean bill of health for Sunday’s All-Ireland final but that won’t dampen debate about potential changes from Jim Gavin and Stephen Rochford.

For Dublin, the big imponderable involves that floating half-forward position filled by a variety of contenders right through the summer.

Niall Scully was a surprise 11th hour recall against Tyrone and filled his brief impressively for 45 minutes. Now, however, the Templeogue/Synge Street rookie faces red-hot competition from both Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn.

Flynn replaced Scully the last day and launched a strong case for starting against Mayo by shooting 0-3 from play.

There were eyebrows raised when Gavin held Connolly in reserve until the 70th minute; but his dearth of game-time (both against Tyrone and all summer after his 12-week ban) hasn’t quelled speculation about a recall. The bookies remain to be convinced – BoyleSports  last night slashed odds on him not starting  to 1/5, in from 4/9.

Mayo emerged from their semi-final replay against Kerry with hamstring concerns over Donal Vaughan and goalscorer Diarmuid O’Connor. However, both have resumed full training and Mayo are even less perturbed by Colm Boyle’s minor Achilles issue coming out of the replay.

Given their improving form and fitness, there is a very real chance that Rochford will stick with the same 15 who started both Kerry games, leaving Paddy Durcan to settle for an impact role once more.

The other big question mark involves the location of Aidan O’Shea, with the Breaffy powerhouse set to move out from the full-back role he filled against Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy.

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