Tomás Ó Sé - Mayo have grown stronger mentally and are more tactically accomplished than last year
Tomás Ó Sé believes Dublin have the ability to 'wipe the floor' with Mayo but expects the Westerners top push them close tomorrow.
The concession of two own goals in last year's drawn All-Ireland final and a missed free to draw the replay show how close Stephen Rochford's came 12 months ago.
Dublin are a different beast in 2017 but Ó Sé feels that so too are Mayo.
He draws comparisons with Kerry's fraught route through the qualifiers in '09 with Mayo's travails this summer.
The level of improvement since the scare against Derry in Castlebar has been marked.
"If you compare the technical side of Mayo’s game against Kerry the last day with the technical side of their game against Derry, the two are miles apart. Nobody from Kerry was getting easy runs down the spine of their defence on August 26. What we’re looking at now is a Mayo group that has grown stronger mentally and become, tactically, more accomplished," he wrote in his column in today's Irish Independent.
"They’ve begun to vary their play more. Their two goals against Kerry came from long deliveries, as did three or four points. Previously, a high ball seemed almost to offend their constitution.
"More than that, they had every invitation to lose the first game with Kerry and, yet, they dug a replay out of it. Mark my words, the character required to do that will be referenced in the Mayo dressing-room tomorrow. It has to be. They’ve got to accentuate the bloody-mindedness shown when it seemed they were on the ropes.
"Because that’s what’ll stand to this Mayo team if tomorrow’s game is on the line with five minutes to go.
"You can throw what you like at them, but if you suggest they’re not mentally tough well you just haven’t been paying attention. Let me put it this way. Their resilience has been challenged a lot more forcefully than Dublin’s has this summer. And that could be significant. Dublin simply haven’t been tested."
Ó Sé envisages a huge role for Mayo's Aidan O'Shea tomorrow and he is relishing the duel between the Breaffy man and Philly McMahon.
"I’ve questioned Aidan O’Shea in the past. He’s a big, big Mayo player and one of the points I made in that article was that he almost never, ever loses a throw-in. But that first day, Jack Barry caught the ball and, immediately, I thought, ‘This is Kerry making a statement now!’ What happened next?," he added.
"Barry goes running down the wing, O’Shea catches up with him, takes the ball and – basically – f**ks him out over the sideline. That was him laying down the marker.
"Needless to say, he went and won the throw-in for the second half and both throw-ins in the replay. In other words, O’Shea got the ball – one way or another – from all four throw-ins against Kerry. That’s some marker to lay down.
"He is vital to Mayo’s hopes tomorrow, that’s for certain. I suspect Philly McMahon will pick him up and that battle alone will be worth the price of a ticket."
Despite Mayo's improvements and their resilience, Ó Sé can only see one result.
"Dublin have the ability to wipe the floor with anybody, Mayo included. It could happen too, even though I don’t think it will. My suspicion is that Mayo will stick with the Dubs. But beat them? I’m sorry, that’s just a bridge too far for me.
"Mayo won’t be beaten because of any mental weakness, though. They don’t have one in my opinion, this year has proved that beyond doubt. They’ll be beaten because Dublin are simply better."