2017 All-Ireland SFC final: Dublin v Mayo: The Numbers Game
By Sean O'Neill
SUNDAY'S final will be Mayo's 10th championship game of the season. The run began with their Connacht Championship opener against Sligo, and, after a provincial semi-final loss to Galway included their close shaves against Derry and Cork in the qualifiers.
MAYO have had six unsuccessful attempts at beating Dublin in the All-Ireland series since 2012. That run of defeats has included two replays, firstly in the 2015 semi-final and last year in the decider. The biggest winning margin for the Dubs was the seven-point win in the 2015 replay.
THE Westerners beat Kerry to reach this stage, and in claiming that five-point replay win, they were bridging a 21-year gap since the last time they had put the Kingdom to the sword. That victory came in the 1996 semi-final.
THESE two sides played out a draw in the 1985 semi-final, with Dublin easily winning the replay. Taking to the field that day as a sub for Mayo was 42-year-old selector Billy Fitzpatrick, who also kicked a point for his side.
THE total number of meetings between these two rivals in the All-Ireland SFC to date. The Metropolitans have enjoyed eight wins, while Mayo have registered just two triumphs, and there have been four draws. The first encounter was a one point win for Dublin in 1906, as was the most recent clash, in last year's final replay.
A YEAR that is burned into the consciousness of every Mayo football supporter. This was the last time that a victorious Mayo captain took the Sam Maguire cup west. That win completed a two-in-a-row. Just the one would slake their thirst now.
MAYO coughed up two bizarre own goals in last year's drawn final. Stephen Rochford's men would surely have won handsomely but for the concession of those goals – deflected in off the unfortunate Kevin McLoughlin and Kevin Boyle.
22 points separated Mayo and Roscommon in the replayed quarter-final on August 7. Just a week previously, the Rossies had led 2-2 to 0-1 inside 12 minutes. But Mayo are nothing if not a resilient crew, and they demolished their opponents at the second attempt.
ANDY Moran, at 33-years-old, typifies the never-say-die spirit of this Mayo team. The Ballaghaderreen man is having another superb season, and as a member of five beaten teams in All-Ireland finals, no-one would begrudge him a Celtic cross tomorrow.
CROAGH Patrick is 764 metres high, and should Mayo end their 66-year wait for another All-Ireland senior title by denying Dublin a three-in-a-row, Fianna Fail Councillor Brendan Mulroy has promised to climb the iconic mountain backwards.
DUBLIN have had five championship outings to reach the decider, and have won those games by a combined total of 74 points. Kildare have got closest to the imperious reigning champions, beaten by nine in the Leinster final, while Westmeath were 31-point losers in the round before.
OFFICIAL statistics revealed that Dublin enjoyed 63 percent possession of the ball in their semi-final defeat of Tyrone. There is no more patient team in the country than Jim Gavin's side, who are content to probe and prod, thus this frightening stat, until an opportunity presents itself.
DUBLIN goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has made 90 appearances for Dublin in the championship and is the national record holder in that regard. The Parnells clubman has been credited with revolutionising the role of the modern custodian, if not even how Gaelic football is played full stop.
THE Dubs are seeking three titles in-a-row, and will join an exclusive club if they manage the feat. Kerry are the last county to have achieved a treble between 1984 and 1986, whilst Dublin have a trio of three in-a rows to their name. Galway did the same between '64 and '66, while Wexford brought up a four-in-a-row between 1915 and 1918.
DUBLIN's latest attacking sensation is Con O'Callaghan, and the Cuala player kicked 12 points in the Leinster final this year, six from frees and six from play. The 21-year-old is so good that he is keeping a player like Bernard Brogan on the bench.
DUBLIN have made it to 39 All-Ireland SFC finals, winning 26 times. The biggest gap between victories was between the years 1923 and 1942, although when they won it in 2011, they had not lifted the cup or been in a final since the 1995 triumph.
SUCH is the potency for Dublin of Hill 16 that opposing counties, such as Mayo in 2006 and Tyrone in this year's semi-final, have at times tried to upset the Dubs by either commandeering it for a warm-up or refusing to walk past it in the pre-match parade. It worked for Mayo, but not for Tyrone.
DIARMUID Connolly was introduced for Dublin in the 69th minute of the semi-final win against Tyrone. The St Vincent's star received the expected rapturous welcome, after returning from a 12-week suspension. That a player like Connolly may not make the starting 15 tomorrow says it all about Dublin's strength.
THE utter dominance of Dublin at provincial level is evidenced by their capture of a seventh consecutive Leinster title in the summer. In fact the Metropolitans have collected 13 Delaney Cups since the turn of the century, and 56 in all.
DEAN Rock has helped himself to that handsome total over five games to comfortably be Dublin's top scorer. The Ballymun Kickhams man has become perhaps the most reliable dead ball kicker in the game.
“I HAVEN'T come across Mayo since March I think it was, National League game. We have been on our own journey, that's where my focus has been on, that path that we are on.”
Dublin manager Jim Gavin, speaking about Mayo, after the All-Ireland semi-final.
“For the current team it's about being present in 2017 and provincial titles mean a lot to us.
“We'll certainly celebrate it tonight with our family and friends, that's for sure, and then move on to the next challenge ahead.”
“I think the guys will look back on their careers, and Pat Gilroy too who came before me and his group of players who are no longer with us, they'll take some satisfaction from today as well.”
Jim Gavin speaking after Dublin clinched a record breaking seventh consecutive Leinster title.
“Diarmuid accepts that he made a mistake, and he accepted the suspension.
“For my part, what concerned me, was the way his good name was attacked before we even saw the referee's report.
“Freedom of expression is one of our rights in the Republic, but it's not absolute, each individual has his own rights, and I believe that his good name was affected by that.”
Jim Gavin speaking about Diarmuid Connolly's perceived ill-treatment by certain sections of the media after the Leinster SFC semi-final.
“We hadn't really been talking about that at all, seven in a row. That's some achievement.
“I think it's a mark of this team, over the last number of years. We're absolutely thrilled.
“We know how fortunate and lucky we are to play football with Dublin with this crop of players and in this era.
“It doesn't come around too often. We're very aware this could all end very shortly, so it's about trying to enjoy it as much as we can while we have this great opportunity in front of us and grasping as much silverware as we can.”
Cian O'Sullivan speaking after the Leinster final.
“It depends on what team you're playing against. Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the right opportunity and if it does open up then fair enough you go for it but you just have to be patient with the ball and my philosophy is to get the ball to the best man in the best position every time.
“There's no point in me running down and three lads surrounding me, dispossessing me and getting a turnover. If I see someone else in a better position I think it's very important to get them on the ball and if that's going indirect then that's fair enough.”
Ciaran Kilkenny on criticism of his lateral playing style, speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland Football Championships in Loughmacrory.
“A GOOD chunk of us have been here before going down this home straight in the last few weeks of the season. But that experience has to be used and harnessed properly. It's not just a thing that because we've been here before, it'll be easy.”
Mayo's top scorer Cillian O'Connor speaking after the All-Ireland semi-final.
“Our preferred route was to get to the Connacht final. That doesn't exist for us anymore. What exists for us right now is a qualifier route - and who that will be we'll know next Monday.
“You can't look long beyond your next game. We didn't look beyond Galway and certainly didn't look beyond Sligo.
“That's exactly the approach we will take in the qualifier route.”
Tom Parsons, interviewed in the days after the Connacht SFC semi-final loss to Roscommon
“They didn't bow their heads when they were two points down going into that closing stages and they kicked numerous wides, there was a bit of nervousness there, a bit of frustration, not as much composure as we'd have liked to have seen but, man, when their backs are against the wall, they are a really, really tight bunch and I was really proud of the way they just kept coming at it and we kept creating chances.”
Stephen Rochford speaking after Mayo advanced past Derry in round two of the qualifiers.
“When you are coming through the qualifiers, there is a certain amount of relief.
“We weren't anywhere near where we wanted to be in the first half, but thankfully we only went in at half-time two points down and we were probably lucky to be only two points down.
“I think you saw more of what we're about in the second half. I don't think we were at our best but I think we are moving in the right direction.”
Stephen Rochford interviewed after the third round qualifier win against Clare
“Possibly it was (Mayo's best) because it's an All-Ireland semi-final and there's only one bigger game than that,” he said.
“Maybe it was, I'm just very proud of the way the boys went about it – it was very important that the boys went out and showed that we didn't leave it behind us last week. It's a satisfying win.”
Stephen Rochford felt that Mayo's display against Kerry in the semi-final replay was perhaps the best of his tenure.
“Roscommon won Connacht and were probably fresh…and nobody gave them a chance and in fairness to them they started really quickly out of the blocks last week. We know what we're capable of, everybody has written us off as per usual and we'll just keep going.”
Aidan O'Shea interviewed after the defeat of Roscommon in the All-Ireland quarter-final.