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27 Aug

5/1 On Dublin to Stop the Mayo4Sam Train in its Tracks

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Posted by David Keane in The Proper Punter | Aug 2015
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Dublin Still Too Good for Mayo

You can get Dublin at a ridiculous 5/1 to beat Mayo, or Mayo at an even more ridiculous 8/1 to beat Dublin by clicking here!

Mayo and Dublin come face to face in a match that’s rightly being billed as the biggest of the summer so far.

Kerry versus Tyrone certainly caught the imagination due to the evocation of the heady days of ’03, ’05 and ’08 and one of the great rivalries of modern times in the GAA. On that day, however, while Tyrone made shapes they never truly threatened the upset with Kerry looking like, and later proving, they had another gear to find if the Red Hands ever got within spitting distance.

This weekend sees the pairing of true heavyweights we’ve all so desperately craved all year. Up to this point, you couldn’t swing a cat for pundits and analysts telling us they have a sneaky suspicion for a Mayo win. “Early-week talk” as Darragh O Se put it in his Irish Times column, wishful thinking if you ask me.

What’s the difference?

The last time these two sides met was the All Ireland final of 2013. In that match Mayo were taken apart by Bernard Brogan at one end, and by the restarts of Stephen Cluxton at the other. The one point winning margin for the Dubs belies the fact that Rory O’Carroll was wandering around with cuckoos over his head by the end of the game, while Eoghan O’Gara was being diligently marked by Keith Higgins despite being on one leg. It was, really, a more emphatic one point win than most.

The question then, is what has changed from 2013 for Mayo have improved to say that they are now better than Dublin?

The key elements pointed to will surely be the emergence of Tom Parsons at midfield, and the corresponding repositioning of Aidan O’Shea to full forward.

O’Shea Shouldering the Burden

Parsons’ performances have certainly been praiseworthy. The question here, however, is whether he’s a better midfielder than O’Shea. If he’s not, this isn’t really an improvement by itself. He’s growing as a player all the time, but at the moment it would be foolhardy to claim he is ahead of the Breaffy man. So this is not where the improvement to get over Dublin is going to come from.

That leaves us with O’Shea himself as the man shouldering the burden. His performances against Sligo and Donegal have left the country in a swoon, but while there’s no doubt that the demolition job in the Connacht final was amusing to watch and his goal against Donegal was a cracker, I fear we have gotten ahead of ourselves.

Everyone and their mother rushed to tell us in the wake of such hammerings as that of Longford by Dublin, or that of Kildare by Kerry that we ought to read nothing into these results. Taking nothing from them is probably a bit over the top, but when drawing up a form guide these games are certainly little more than footnotes.

You can get Dublin at a ridiculous 5/1 to beat Mayo, or Mayo at an even more ridiculous 8/1 to beat Dublin by clicking here!

This leaves us with the game against Galway and the game against Donegal. Against Galway, O’Shea managed a point from play. He was also involved in the goal but had been dispossessed before the calamity of errors which saw the ball roll in off a Galway boot ensued. Not bad, but not exactly earth-shattering either.

aidan o'shea

The Donegal game saw a good performance from O’Shea but one which is now being revised as that of a towering colossus.

While he got an excellent goal just before half-time, the reality is that full back Neil McGee was giving him all he wanted and more in the early exchanges. The key moment came after around half an hour of the game when Paul Durcan came out to clear a high delivery in towards the danger area. Perhaps taking the “man and ball” idea a bit too literally, Durcan poleaxed his full back to the point that the Gweedore man ended up two broken ribs that have kept him out of action even for his club since.

[Tweet “The Donegal game saw a good performance by O’Shea but one now being revised as that of a colossus”]

Five minutes later, O’Shea wins a high ball into the square where previously McGee had been the master, O’Shea turns and buries it. Let’s not over-egg the pudding here – it was a brilliant goal, but did McGee’s ribs play a part? It’s at least a maybe, right?

O’Connor Struggling

Elsewhere, the previously totemic Cillian O’Connor is having probably his worst season since bursting onto the scene. A point from play against Galway, a paltry 1-1 from play out of 6-25 in the Connacht final and another solitary point from play against Donegal is a pretty average return for a player on the inside line of a team that have been scoring heavily.

In the last match, even O’Connor’s usually metronomic free-taking deserted him as he and his team missed shot after shot in the second half in particular. This is a player who has been carrying the Mayo forward line on his back for the last few years and deserves nothing but credit, but it’s not surprising to see a dip in form after such a sustained period of brilliance.

If you put any stock in the theory that question marks remain over the firepower of O’Shea – and you should – then O’Connor’s form has to be a worry.

[Tweet “If there are any question marks over the firepower of O’Shea then O’Connor’s form has to be a worry.”]

The Heart of the Matter

We now come, really, to the heart of things.

We know Mayo are a good team. They’ve proven that with their consistency over the last several years. Are they a million miles away from being All Ireland winners? Certainly not. Are they as good as the teams that have won the All Ireland in the last five years, as they get credit for from all and sundry? I’m not quite so sure.

The fact of the matter is, when you look back over the record of this Mayo team which first emerged under James Horan in 2011 there are asterisks beside each and every one of their landmark victories. In ’11, it was All Ireland Champions Cork, in ’12 it was All Ireland Champions Dublin, in ’13 it was All Ireland Champions Donegal. We all know what happened next. Despite ongoing conspiracy theories about refs and venues the fact remains that versus Kerry last year they were outscored by ten points from the 25th minute on in Limerick.

In a word, when Mayo come up against a team that has genuine credentials, they will beat them if they have an All Ireland hangover, if they don’t they won’t.

[tweet “When Mayo meet teams with credentials they beat them if they have an AI hangover, if not they don’t”]

This weekend, they will meet a Dublin side aching to right the wrongs of 2014, a team that has been targeting the All Ireland semi-final for twelve months solid, and who are anything but hungover from past success.

Will they have enough to meet the challenge? Don’t bet on it.

Recommendation: Dublin to win at the special price of 5/1 which can be found here.

You can get Dublin at a ridiculous 5/1 to beat Mayo, or Mayo at an even more ridiculous 8/1 to beat Dublin by clicking here!

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