Back in the day - Down must be at their best to beat Mayo - The Irish News: September 25 1999
All-Ireland MFC final
By Kenny Archer
FROM start to finish, Down will have to be at their best to beat Mayo and win their third All-Ireland Minor final in a row.
Starting well is important, Cork showing with two goals early in each half of the semi-final that the Connacht champions can be caught cold. Finishing is even more vital, although Down have marched on so far despite their Achilles heel of wayward shooting. Mayo, in contrast, were lethal against the Leesiders, firing only six wides all day, half of those in the opening quarter hour before they had truly settled.
Yet the feeling in the Down camp is that the westerners reached their peak on their last visit to Croke Park while the Mourne county lads have yet to scale the heights of which they’re capable. Also, the euphoria which surrounded Mayo’s stylish cruise past Cork must be tempered by the poor quality of the young Rebels’ performance for much of that match.
The Munster boys’ marking and tackling were loose or non-existent, shooting inaccurate, particularly in a disastrous first half display. Even so, they did manage those two goals by midfielder Damien Delaney, and there’s sure to be a glint in the eyes for goal of Down’s Brendan Coulter and Michael Walsh. Mayo certainly look susceptible to scores when players run at the heart of their defence.
The Down rearguard will undergo their stiffest test too, against an attack that answered their critics superbly in the All-Ireland semi-final.
All-Ireland SFC final
By Damien Barton
NEITHER side produced a polished All-Ireland semi-final performance but that matters not a jot.
Cork’s comparative youth pitted against a Meath team with the knack of suffocating the opposition.
The Rebels must not make the mistake Armagh made in the semi-final of attempting to merely contain Meath.
Larry Tompkins may be tempted to put in another defensive soldier alongside Owen Sexton to contain the gifted Trevor Giles. Larry should desist from this course of action.
Cork must play their own game. Their forwards should be encouraged to run against the Meath defence. Darren Fay and his colleagues would love to see Cork lumping in high balls all day.
Larry Tompkins will surely have noted that young Paddy McKeever gave Meath many uncomfortable moments with his direct running.
Potentially, the Munster champions have a set of great forwards but they have yet to overly impress as a unit this season.
Mark O’Sullivan gets dispossessed too easily while Joe Kavanagh has not showed the kind of form which frightened ourselves in the 1993 All-Ireland final.
Kavanagh has the ability to get his foot on the ball and play the decisive pass - the kind of player Armagh lacked. Podsie O’Mahony also can do much better than he showed against Mayo.
Don Davis was one of Cork’s best forwards against the Connacht champions yet I would have him nearer the square rather than the deeper role in which he was employed last month.
Davis is a fast intelligent player and his speed of thought could trouble Darren Fay. Perhaps even more important will be how many attacks the Cork half-backs can generate.
Right half-back Ciaran O’Sullivan can do a great job for Cork in this regard - providing he doesn’t get overly obsessed with his defensive duties. Meath’s game will surprise no-one tomorrow.
Their method is tried and trusted yet few teams can withstand the brand of aggressive football laced with sporadic bursts of brilliance