Sunday 25 February 2018

Quick supply can pay dividends for Dublin

Donegal have fitness and passion but that might not be enough, says Páidí ó Sé

Paidi O Se

Over the last few years Dublin have been recognised as one of the fittest teams in the country and this has been one of their key assets but today they come up against a group of players who I think are just as fit as them.

Their All-Ireland quarter-final performance is proof of that. Donegal finished up better than Kildare after extra-time and it's common knowledge just how much emphasis Kieran McGeeney puts on the fitness and conditioning of his side. I know that Rory Gallagher has been doing an amount of physical work with them and they won't be found wanting today.

The number of games Dublin have played in Croke Park will definitely stand to them and probably give them a bit of an edge over Donegal; although it's not officially their home ground it's still their back yard and the Dublin players are familiar with every inch of it.

They have had a lot of big days out there over the last number of years, some of them good and some of them bad, but all of them together yield a hell of a lot of experience. But, in saying that, experience alone doesn't give them the licence to get over the line today. If we look at possession statistics, the big situation that needs to be addressed or looked at is this famous blanket defence that Donegal have operated since Jim McGuinness took over. They have been using it to great effect to date and Dublin need to find out if that system can be cracked and if so how it can be cracked.

Tyrone used the blanket defence too and the ploy they had was that they hunted in packs, they tackled as a defence rather than individually.

When I was managing Kerry, I used to say that we have more man-to-man ability than any other team but on lots of occasions when we played Tyrone we found it difficult to beat them because we were never able to isolate our men one on one against them.

Now that happened with Dublin against Tyrone too but they moved a type of quick ball into open space on two occasions which resulted in Bernard and Alan Brogan leaving their opposite numbers for dead.

The reason they were able to get one-on-one chances is that there was no slow build-up, it was simply quick ball into open space.

No matter how many players Donegal filter back, if this fast ball is used to great effect and lads are on top of their game, so much so that they are able to pull the trigger when the opportunity arises, I think Donegal will find it very hard to control them.

However, Donegal also have a few very good clubs in their bag for today. They have an exceptionally good free-kicker in Michael Murphy; he is accurate off the ground or out of the hand from 50 yards in.

As well as that, they have Colm McFadden and Christy Toye who are great long-range kickers and are not afraid to have a pot from 40 or 50 yards out. Dublin, however, don't have that asset.

To be honest, the game that Donegal were really preparing for was this game against Dublin today, and I know that for a fact. Another thing I think Donegal have going for them is that it is a very proud county and there is a lot of raw passion there.

But all things considered I think Donegal are far from the finished article, and that basically tells me that we will be seeing Dublin coming home with a victory this evening.

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