Can Mayo break their sixty-two year famine?

Mayo people living in Galway have really been showing their colours over the past few weeks and I hope Mayo finally come good and get over the winning line.

Having been beaten in six All-Ireland finals since 1989, surely their time has to come at some stage.

The mood in the county is fantastic. Joe Connolly and I were in Breaffy on Tuesday night for a fundraiser for the club and there was a real air of expectation that this “is the year”.

Breaffy have three starting players on Sunday in the senior game – the two O’Sheas and Robert Hennelly, and they have four players in the minor set-up as well. So you can imagine the excitement in their village. If they win, the place will go mad.

I expect Mayo to win the minor game – they are facing Tyrone. However, I am not so sure about the senior.

Dublin will feel they owe them one from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat and their forward play was impressive against Kerry. Revenge is a strong motivation and the Dub's will want to get Mayo back for those defeats in 2006 and 2012.

Mayo look likely to start Andy Moran and Cillian O’ Connor in the full-forward line, but there has to be some doubts over their fitness which is a concern for the Mayo faithful. Moran has been struggling a little for form and O' Connor's shoulder cannot be right. However the rationale for starting them is understandable.

A few key battles will be Bernard Brogan and Ger Cafferkey, Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly on the hugely impressive Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle, and Michael Darragh MacCauley and one of the O’Shea lads. Also, if Ciaran Kilkenny is picked for Dublin, can he get Donal Vaughan on the back foot? Vaughan is terrific going forward, but he is not as good running back to his own goal.

Those individual duels will go a long way to deciding where the Sam Maguire will be next Sunday evening.

I would give a hesitant vote for Jim Gavin’s men to come through at the finish – but only by a narrow margin.

They have a impressive bench and guys like Dean Rock, Kevin McMenamin and Denis Bastick (if he is not a starter ) can make a big impact in the last quarter.

It has the makings of an intriguing joust and tickets are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I hope I am wrong, but I think Mayo’s famine may continue for at least another 12 months.


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