As in every game between two evenly matched sides a number of factors will be decisive in sorting out where the winning and the losing of this game will be. We will look at a few of those factors here.
Last weekend's game was one of the most tetchy games in recent memory. There were six yellow cards, two black cards, and one red card shown over the course of the game. Mayo scored 1-8 of their total from either frees or penalties (Cillian O'Connor scored 1-9, with 1-8 from frees and a penalty and the other coming from a 45 ). Mayo held their discipline quite well, with Dublin only registering 1-1 from placed balls, but they also had three uncharacteristic wides from frees by Stephen Cluxton. If Diarmuid Connolly had not been sent off in the build up to that last missed effort by Cluxton we might not be here at all, with the St Vincent's man having scored a free from a very similar position earlier on.
Mayo's scoring return from play will have to drastically improve tomorrow evening. Last Sunday they converted only six of their 20 scoring chances from play (30 per cent ) and registered eight wides, with six balls dropping short of the target. While Dublin managed to convert 12 of their 18 scoring chances from play into scores a 66 per cent return. O'Connor was exceptional from placed balls, but if one or two of the more difficult ones had missed, it would have been a very different story.
Mayo slightly edged this battle last Sunday, winning 17 of their own kickouts and six of Dublin's, with the Dubs winning 17 of their own and five of Mayo's. Mayo let Dublin kick short kick outs and swept men behind the ball to cut off space for long periods of time. When they did push up on Dublin in the second half late on they won two of them and converted them into scores, with a third ending up with Andy Moran stripping the ball from Cluxton and having a goal attempt that was blocked off the line. On their own kick-outs Mayo split their choices 50/50 with 11 being taken short and 11 going long, they won all of their 11 short kick-outs and won six of the longer ones.
Mayo introduced Andy Moran, Alan Freeman, Barry Moran, and Mikie Sweeney from the bench in the second half, with Patrick Duran appearing much earlier to replace the injured Donal Vaughan. Mayo got a good return from their tactical second half subs, with Moran scoring two points and Freeman registering one. Barry Moran made a big catch from a Dublin kickout with his first involvement in the game, which also saw Denis Bastick black carded for a trip on Moran in the same play. It was a very good return. Dublin for their part got 1-2 out of their subs, with Kevin McManamon hitting 1-1 and Alan Brogan chipping in with a point. But their bench impact was lessened with Bastick seeing black after only 15 minutes of action. Both benches will be needed again this week with a six day turn around.
Mayo have gone to become one of the most unpredictable sides this year. With Messrs Holmes and Connelly showing they are well able to pull a rabbit out of the hat when the circumstances demand. First off Ger Cafferkey and Donal Vaughan are left out of the starting side for Sligo, then Barry Moran pops up as a sweeper for the Donegal game and last Sunday David Drake appears from no where to start his first championship match. What have they in store for us tomorrow?