Sunday 22 April 2018

Joe Brolly expects Dublin to achieve four-in-a-row because one thing is holding Mayo back from dethroning them

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Joe Brolly believes Jim Gavin's Dublin side will take a lot of stopping in 2018 but Mayo could trouble them if they drop Aidan O'Shea.

The Sunday Independent columnist, speaking on Independent.ie's GAA podcast 'The Throw-In', reaffirmed his view that the Breaffy player was holding the Connacht side back.

The 1993 All-Ireland winner expects improvement from Dublin sharpshooters Paul Mannion and Con O'Callaghan and is looking forward to seeing how a highly motivated Diarmuid Connolly fares this year.

Mayo have been Dublin's chief rivals in recent seasons but are much more vulnerable than their opponents in the capital.

"It's a much more difficult situation and a much more pressurised situation when you have continually failed at the last hurdle as they have," Brolly said.

"A third of the way through the season you would have said they are dead and gone. Derry should have beaten them, one of the worst Derry teams in living memory, we should have beaten them in Mayo and they were rescued by the young sub who came on (Conor Loftus) and scored that great goal and don't forget that Derry missed a free to win the game and really looked the better team for the vast majority of the 70 minutes.

"That was a pattern that was repeated. Against Clare they looked awful, they looked like dead men walking but the point is this, the potential is there. The ability is there. They are clearly able to perform at the highest level and they are clearly capable of winning an All-Ireland. There can be no doubt about that.

"Their defence is fantastic , their half-back line is probably the best half-back linewe have seen in the last decade and they are extremely difficult to deal with and when they push up on the kick-outs as they did last year in the latter stages of the Championship... and that's what happened against Derry. They negated Derry's sweepers. They hemmed us in and made it impossible for us to get out.

"They did exactly the same against the Dubs. That's how they strangled Kerry.

"Mayo, subject to being able to keep the faith, which is not easy at this stage will be there at the end.

"The big thing is to get to the semi-final for them because they're very vulnerable.

"Dublin are coming from an absolutely different base. There are a team that is flourishing and playing with absolute confidence. They want to go out and express themselves and play football.

"Everyone is playing with ambition. They are not afraid to make mistakes. We have yet to see the best from (Paul) Mannion, from Con O'Callaghan. Diarmuid Connolly is bound to be burning up inside after what happened last year when he lost his place for the big games.

"Looking at them and looking at their attitude, everything is perfect at this stage. You have to say that it's very likely they will win the four-in-a-row but on the other hand, four times they have beaten Mayo by just a point. Four times. Mayo are extremely close."

Brolly has previously expressed reservations about Aidan O'Shea's presence in the Mayo team and a good display in the opening 50 minutes of last year's All-Ireland hasn't been enough to change his opinion.

"I still make the point that I always make that while Aidan O'Shea is in that Mayo team, you're not going to win an All-Ireland because I don't think you can afford passengers come the key phases of big games.

"He was great against Clare and he was great against Clare in the second half."

When challenged on the fact that he played well in last year's All-Ireland, Brolly responded: "Yeah, when it didn't matter. He was winning balls and laying them off. What did he actually do? While James McCarthy came forward and kicked to killer points in the last quarter when the game is there for the taking. Where the great players, the All Stars step up and take that game, where was he? Where did he go in the last 20 minutes?

"That's what you judge a great player on. I really couldn't believe it that he got an All Star. Lee Keegan, meanwhile, didn't get an All Star?

"There are ruthless decisions that need to be made and I'll put it to you this way, he wouldn't make the Dublin team. He wouldn't be on the Dublin XV if he was a Dub."

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