Dublin should have too much for Mayo

Having watched Donegal in the flesh last weekend in their awe-inspiring victory over Cork, it is difficult to see either Mayo or Dublin stopping them taking Sam back to the hills for the first time in 20 years.

Their second-half performance and the displays of Karl Lacey, Neil Gallagher, Frank McGlynn and Mark McHugh were stunning. Their conditioning and fitness was sensationally high. Has there ever been a fitter team in Gaelic football?

Cork had no answer to their defensive set-up and counter-attacks and, unless there is a systems failure in a few weeks’ time, either Dublin or Mayo will have to produce something very very special to stop Jimmy McGuinness emulating Brian McEniff's achievment in 1992.

That is a few weeks away and next Sunday sees the Connacht champions Mayo hoping to do what they did in 2006 and beat Dublin in an All-Ireland semi-final.

They won that day by a point in dramatic fashion (1-16 to 2-12 ), and a similar result this Sunday would set up a really novel pairing for the final.

Dublin start as 2/1 on favourites this weekend and, while everyone was impressed with Mayo's high scoring win over Down in the quarter-final, the loss of team captain Andy Moran has tempered much optimism in the county.

One man (and why wouldn't he be ), who is still very upbeat about their chances of advancing is Mayo team manager James Horan. And he spoke confidently about his team's chances recently.

"We like playing in Croker. We’ve done pretty well there. Some of our best performances have been there, so when you play a team like Dublin, in front of a full house, that’s absolutely where you want to be.

“We feel we have the game, and the players. We’re prepared well and we can’t wait to get cracking at it. We’re really looking forward to it,” he said.

Horan, who is a former All-Star with Mayo, has done very well in his two-year stint as senior manager - collecting two provincial titles and reaching the All-Ireland semi-final in both years. He also believes his squad is in a good place ahead of this weekend's joust with Pat Gilroy's side.

“Defensively we’re stronger and smarter, and we’ve got a lot more strings to our bow than we had last year. It’s all based on the same principles. The principles are the same as every successful team in the world - high work-rate, pressure, tempo, good skill execution and decision-making.

“There’s no secret to that, and we’re happy that we’re further along the road than we were last year.”

As a neutral looking at the game, my view is that Dublin should have too much for the Connacht champions. They will have to improve their collective work-rate, and play with a lot more intensity and fluidity up front than they did against Laois, but I believe they have the capacity to do so.

If Alan Brogan is back, he will be a big plus for them. They have genuine options in their inside line with Bernard Brogan, Eoghan O' Gara, Kevin McManamon, Diarmuid Connolly and young Ciarán Kilkenny all capable of doing damage.

I think the Dublin rearguard will be able to keep tabs on the Mayo forwards and with wing-forwards Bryan Cullen and Paul Flynn working back the field, I don't see Mayo scoring enough to win. Admittedly my prediction is based on Dublin lifting their performance on what they have produced heretofore this season, but I still think it will be a DD final.

Verdict: Dublin win.

 

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