GAA Football

Can Mayo stop Dublin's' 'Drive for Five'? All the big game analysis

Mayo's Paddy Durcan was brilliant in pushing back Donegal's Ryan McHugh last week, and he is expected to go toe-to-toe with Dublin's Jack McCaffrey this evening. Picture by Sportsfile
Neil Loughran

KEY BATTLE

Paddy Durcan (Mayo) v Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

WHAT James Horan decides to do with Durcan and Lee Keegan will be crucial. Durcan returned from injury against Donegal last week and, starting at wing-forward, completely negated the attacking threat of Ryan McHugh, pushing the Kilcar man back and landing three scores from play in a man-of-the-match display.

It is not out of the question that he could be asked to shackle Con O’Callaghan but, considering how he fared further up the field last week, Horan might be more tempted to put Durcan up on McCaffrey in the hope that he can curtail the Clontarf speedster.

TEAM TALK

Mayo

THE only change expected to the Mayo starting 15 is enforced, with Kevin McLoughlin likely to come in for the injured Jason McLoughlin. Darren Coen could keep his starting spot, despite a virtuoso performance from veteran Andy Moran after replacing Coen before half-time in last week’s dramatic win over Donegal. Rob Hennelly is likely to retain the number one jersey.

Probable line-up: R Hennelly; B Harrison, C Barrett; C Boyle; S Coen, K Higgins; L Keegan, A O’Shea, S O’Shea; F McDonagh, K McLoughlin, P Durcan, J Carr; C O’Connor, D Coen

Dublin

MICHAEL Darragh Macauley is expected to drop out of the starting line-up, with James McCarthy starting and midfield and Cian O’Sullivan restored to the starting 15 as sweeper. Davy Byrne has started all five of Dublin’s Championship outings so far this summer but could make way if Jim Gavin plumps for Michael Fitzsimons, Philly McMahon and Jonny Cooper. Diarmuid Connolly is likely to be named on the bench.

Probable line-up: S Cluxton; J Cooper, M Fitzsimons; C O’Sullivan; P McMahon, J McCaffrey, J Small; J McCarthy, B Fenton; N Scully, C Kilkenny, B Howard, C O’Callaghan; P Mannion, D Rock

TACTICAL TAKE

Mayo

JAMES Horan has some big calls to make if they are push the Dubs all the way again, as was the case in the 2016 and 2017 All-Ireland deciders.

The first is: who picks up Con O’Callaghan? There is a school of thought that Paddy Durcan or even Lee Keegan could drop back, but that would take so much away from Mayo going forward.

Chris Barrett looks the most likely candidate for the Cuala powerhouse, with Brendan Harrison taking up Paul Mannion, with Colm Boyle and Keith Higgins moving onto Dean Rock and Niall Scully.

Horan may also consider Keegan for the hugely influential Brian Fenton, although he has fared so well on Dublin metronome Ciaran Kilkenny in the past that is likely he will resume that rivalry.

That would leave Paddy Durcan to push up on Jack McCaffrey, considering how effectively he negated Ryan Hugh by pushing up on the Kilcar man last week.

Jason Doherty is a significant loss, and the fact Horan will likely have to thrust Kevin McLoughlin into starting action robs him of a potential game-changer from the bench.

Andy Moran was brilliant when he came on before half-time against Donegal, but doesn’t have the legs for 70 minutes against the Dubs. Darren Coen will probably start again, with the Ballaghaderreen veteran primed to come on and unsettle the Dubs defence.

Dublin

THERE was little to be learned from Dublin’s facile victory over Tyrone in Omagh last week, beyond showcasing the mind-blowing breadth of options available to Jim Gavin even without his biggest stars.

The Dublin boss will have a fair idea of what to expect this evening – the intensity Mayo brought to last week’s win over Donegal, their dominance around the middle, the defensive tenacity and the brilliance of Andy Moran from then bench.

But Gavin will also be well aware of how much that effort, allied to weeks on the road through the back door, must surely have taken from Mayo legs. The Dubs will stay patient and precise, but it would be no surprise to see them go for goals early on in a bid to lower Mayo heads.

If past encounters are anything to go by, it could come down to the final 15 minutes – and that is where Dublin hold so many aces on the bench, especially if previous super-subs Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran line out tonight.

MAN OF THE MOMENT

Aidan O’Shea (Mayo)

THE big Breaffy man was at the very heart of Mayo’s victory over Donegal in Castlebar. Alongside brother Seamus and Jason Doherty, they dominated the skies in the first half against a Tir Chonaill side packed with huge men around the middle.

After his nightmare in Killarney a couple of weeks earlier, when O’Shea was bossed by the brilliant David Moran, he bounced back in some style at MacHale Park. Dublin, though, will represent an entirely different kind of challenge.

The ability of that entire midfield sector O’Shea patrols to block off the blue wave bursting through will be critical to how Mayo fare tonight.

WHO’S THE REF?

Conor Lane (Cork)

LANE refereed the epic 2016 All-Ireland final showdown between Dublin and Mayo, showing a black card to James McCarthy following a fairly innocuous collision while Michael Darragh Macauley and Aidan O’Shea escaped the same fate for black card offences. Every decision will be scrutinised to the nth degree this evening.

WEATHER WATCH

LOOKING like a fairly muggy 18-19 degrees in the capital today, with light showers expected into the evening and the possibility of heavy rain as the game edges to a close. Could be wet and wild if it goes to extra-time.

LAST CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING

September 17, 2017 – All-Ireland SFC final: Dublin 1-17 Mayo 0-16

FOR the second year in-a-row, Dublin edged past Mayo by one point after a pulsating final at Croke Park to claim a third All-Ireland title in-a-row.

Despite having a GPS tossed his direction by Lee Keegan, Dean Rock held his nerve from what turned out to be the match-winning free deep into stoppage-time to inflict yet more misery on Mayo.

Dublin’s Con O'Callaghan netted an early goal to put Jim Gavin’s into the box seat but Mayo battled back to lead at half-time, and it remained similarly nip and tuck after the break.

John Small and Donie Vaughan were both shown 47th minute red cards, Small’s coming after a second yellow, and although Keegan rattled Stephen Cluxton’s next shortly after, it was the Dubs who held their nerve down the straight.

Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, C O’Sullivan, M Fitzsimons; J Cooper, J Small (0-1), J McCaffrey; B Fenton (0-1), J McCarthy (0-2); C Kilkenny, C O’Callaghan (1-0), E O’Gara (0-1); P Mannion (0-3), P Andrews, D Rock (0-7, 0-3 frees). Subs: P Flynn for McCaffrey (9), D Connolly (0-1) for Andrews (ht), K McManamon (0-1) for O’Gara (ht), B Brogan for Flynn (65), N Scully for O’Callaghan (68), C Costello for Mannion (74).

Black card: Kilkenny (76)

Yellow cards: O’Gara (17), Small (27, 48), McCarthy (30), McMahon (60), Scully (75)

Red card: Small (48)

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, C Barrett, K Higgins; L Keegan (1-0), C Boyle (0-1), P Durcan; S O’Shea, T Parsons; K McLoughlin (0-2), A O’Shea, D Vaughan (0-1); J Doherty (0-2), C O’Connor (0-7, 0-4 frees), A Moran (0-3). Subs: D O’Connor for S O’Shea (51), S Coen for Boyle (55), C Loftus for Moran (63), D Drake for Doherty (70), G Cafferkey for Higgins (75), D Kirby for McLoughlin (75).

Yellow cards: Keegan (27), Boyle (35+4)

Red card: Vaughan (48)

BETTING BOX

Dublin 1/5

Mayo 5/1

Draw 11/1

First goalscorer

Paul Mannion 15/2

Worth a punt

Mayo to score a penalty 7/1

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