Tuesday 20 March 2018

O’Sullivan in as Gavin sticks to his guns

Cian O'Sullivan, Dublin, takes a drink before the start of the game
Cian O'Sullivan, Dublin, takes a drink before the start of the game
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Dublin have named an unchanged starting 15 from that which beat Mayo for tomorrow’s All-Ireland final but it remains to be seen if it’s the team that actually starts.

Under Jim Gavin, there has been a litany of changes from the announced teams and there’s every chance that it could happen again.

Cian O’Sullivan, who has been troubled by a hamstring injury is named in his usual centre-back position and it certainly will be a major boost to Dublin if he lines out.

He has been one of their best players all season, solidly anchoring a defence that will face its biggest test tomorrow.

Denis Bastick, who was replaced by Michael Darragh Macauley in the semi-final replay win over Mayo, is again named as Brian Fenton’s midfield partner.

That comes as a surprise since Macauley did very well after replacing Bastick in the second half the last day.

Indeed, it will leave Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice suspicious that Jim Gavin is indulging in some mind games with his announced team.

Dean Rock would have been seen as under pressure after being replaced in the win over Mayo, but the Ballymun Kickhams attacker – the team’s principal freetaker – is also slated to start.

Kevin McManamon and Alan Brogan both played extremely well when coming in as subs against Mayo, which raises questions as to whether Dublin have again issued a dummy selection.

It’s all part of the psychology  between Gavin and his Kerry counterpart who announced three changes to the Kingdom’s starting 15 on Thursday night.

Dublin are deeply suspicious as to whether that will be the actual line-up, although in fairness to Fitzmaurice, he hasn’t deviated very much in the past.

That’s in contrast to Dublin, who have made changes to their selected line-up in most championship games during Gavin’s reign.

Neither manager will pay too much attention to the other’s selection for a final where there’s so little to call between the teams.

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