Sunday 18 August 2019

'What difference did Robbie Hennelly make?' - David Brady says Mayo's problems lie further out the field

James Horan with Rob Hennelly
James Horan with Rob Hennelly

Tony Considine

Amid the scramble fans are enduring to secure tickets for Saturday's Dublin versus Mayo All-Ireland semi-final, a similar scramble will be going on within the two panels to secure starting places for the highly-anticipated clash. And fitness permitting, there's nowhere more up for grabs than the Mayo number one shirt.

A feature of Mayo's season-best performance when beating Donegal was a better functioning kick-out after Robbie Hennelly replaced the injured David Clarke. Unsurprisingly, and not for the first time this summer, the spotlight has turned back to the goalkeeping position that swapped hands for the third time this season last Saturday.

While many pundits have raised issues with Clarke's kick-outs after Super 8 struggles against Kerry and Meath, former Mayo man David Brady has spent the summer arguing that the problem lies further up the field. And the All-Ireland runner-up doubled down on his position during this week's The Throw-In, Independent.ie's podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy.

"I'm not being disingenuous but we need to step back. What difference did Robbie Hennelly make?" Brady said.

"They had a half-forward line that functioned and worked. Now Rob did hit some lovely long directional balls to Jason Doherty but they'd highlighted the Mayo half-forward line and said they have to be an option. Because Mayo have had no options whatsoever in the last couple of weeks.

"Do you blame the goalkeeper or do you blame the players out the field? I would always say if the ball goes out long, when it's in the air you have to compete. Mayo weren't doing that until last Saturday night.

"I think Mayo's kick-outs worked a lot better because the players outside worked a lot harder and made themselves available."

The argument may well be moot if the injury that caused Clarke to miss last Saturday's game turns out to be more serious than thought. But while Brady does agree that the shirt should be Hennelly's to lose, he also feels that Clarke's better shot-stopping may be more valuable against a Dublin side hunting for green flags.

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"I know that David is carrying an injury so will he be fit for next Saturday night? I don't know," Brady continued.

"I've always been of the opinion that David Clarke is the best keeper all round that we have. From a shot-stopping perspective, you're gonna have a lot of one-on-ones. You'll have a lot of guys from Dublin trying to get down the barrel of a gun and get shots off.

"James Horan is in a good position, he won't see it as a hard call to make. It's a positive that you have two good keepers.

"From my context, it's hard to change a winning team. If I'm given an opportunity, I keep it until someone else comes and takes it back from me.

"But I wouldn't see a lot of difference between Rob Hennelly and David Clarke from a kick-out point of view. The work out the field was a lot better last Saturday."

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