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Friday 9 December 2016

Kevin McStay: Dubs have some big calls to make to see off Mayo threat

Jack McCaffrey, Dublin, in action against Diarmuid O'Connor, Mayo
Jack McCaffrey, Dublin, in action against Diarmuid O'Connor, Mayo

It's hard to know which team will have the greater regrets following last Sunday's draw.

And the reality is both teams have already turned their sights to Saturday's replay so the clever play is to add up the absolutes and try to deal with the challenge ahead.

Rest and recovery and detailed analysis of their own and the opposition performances are the critical requirements for this part of the week.

Picking the best team to start and more importantly, the best team to finish, will be the next challenge. In all aspects of this preparation, both teams have a shed load of work to complete before throw in.

Let's look at Dublin and the scenario where Connolly does not play. Coupled with Dean Rock's failure to launch in the drawn game Dublin have two problems in attack: who to replace the country's best footballer (a very tall order indeed) and what to do about the free-taking responsibilities if Rock is left on the bench?

Not simple

Stephen Cluxton had a cut at a few from range, and these kicks are certainly not simple, but recall that Connolly fired a beauty over in the second half only to walk away from the next few.

If his red card sticks, that option is gone and outside of Bernard Brogan, they do not have a natural free taker; at this stage of the season, asking BB to take them is risky.

Dublin's midfield continues to struggle under the high ball and thus the principle reason for Cluxton's short kick-outs. Eight from eight in the first half is a grand number but seven of them were short tap outs to a nearby defender.

There is a lot of ground to be covered and a fair few ball transfers to be made before you reach a shooting position from these short kick outs.

In the second half Mayo, having preserved their energy for a final quarter push up and high line, took the Dublin kick out apart.

Have they the energy levels to apply this tactic for longer periods - what about a second-quarter assault and a final push as a compromise?

And when you consider how Mayo might drive the tactical battle of wits, surely we will see Barry Moran alongside Aidan O'Shea for a decent period of time?

At least it would ask a different question of Dublin's defence. Having watched the game extremely closely and having the assistance of many camera angles to view the action, it is obvious to me that Dublin have the superior forward line.

They move better, score more freely and just play at a higher tempo. Mayo's only score from a starting forward came in the 62nd minute and that is just not good enough.

So, Mayo must make changes - the David Drake experiment is unlikely to be repeated but I really liked the effort of Patrick Durcan, a strong-running young footballer.

Andy Moran has put his hand up and Alan Freeman may get the nod too. But I am expecting bigger efforts from Kevin McLaughlin and Jason Doherty - they are bound to be better the next day.

And what about Dublin? Kevin McManamon must start - even if Diarmuid Connolly is available; Alan Brogan has to be considered and Paddy Andrews should make the first 15 again too.

Main strength

This is Dublin's main strength - their ability to move, link and score. Midfield is just playing poorly right now and so the kick out variations will continue.

At the back they have plenty to ponder and their rank indiscipline will have to be challenged by their management - a goal and nine points form placed balls must be some sort of record at this stage of the championship.

A word of warning: referee Eddie Kinsella is likely to see sneezing as a yellow card offence and jersey pulling as a red card one.

It's time for players to show some respect to each other, for the teams to cop themselves on and for both managements to understand their responsibilities to the game of Gaelic football.

The replay can be a great one if the attitudes are correct and the teams just go for it in a sporting contest.

It's pretty obvious the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) sat on their hands and took the easy option of dealing only with the Diarmuid Connolly red card - a single match suspension is suggested but by the time the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) gets to work on it this week, it will probably be overturned.

And why not? Diarmuid Connolly can hardly be suspended from next Saturday's game when Kevin Keane (Mayo) was made available to play last Sunday.

Apparently, Rory O'Carroll might well recover in time from the ten plus stitches inflicted on him but the CCCC failed to find the culprit. After exhaustive investigation, they believe it was a ghost that did the damage and have called up Ghostbusters to investigate.

Despite evidence of feigning injury, diving and attempting to head butt an opponent that same committee failed to take action against a Dublin player and so Connolly (pictured left) gets the short straw. His will be the show trial.

There is no doubt but that Lee Keegan initiated the contact and further intentional blocking led to retaliation by the Dubliner. As usual in these matters, it is the person who is provoked and retaliates that suffers the punishment.

In all my years playing or watching the game, I have rarely if ever witnessed a forward start the illegal marking and perhaps you might ask 'why would he?' Does the linesman or referee not even think of this possibility?

Essentially these committees, by their actions, have left themselves in disrepute. It has been a very disappointing summer for both of them and a really poor start to the new President's term.

The manner in which they dealt with Tiernan McCann (Tyrone) may well have been their low point, but they had many other dealings that went close enough to matching that daftness. Do they ever take a moment to see the damage they are doing to the game?

 

Connolly handed show trial as CCCC again fails to act in interest of game

Diarmuid Connolly.jpg  

It’s pretty obvious the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) sat on their hands and took the easy option of dealing only with the Diarmuid Connolly red card – a single match suspension is suggested but by the time the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) gets to work on it this week, it will probably be overturned.

And why not? Diarmuid Connolly can hardly be suspended from next Saturday’s game when Kevin Keane (Mayo) was made available to play last Sunday.

Apparently, Rory O’Carroll might well recover in time from the ten plus stitches inflicted on him but the CCCC failed to find the culprit. After exhaustive investigation, they believe it was a ghost that did the damage and have called up Ghostbusters to investigate.

Despite evidence of feigning injury, diving and attempting to head butt an opponent that same committee failed to take action against a Dublin player and so Connolly gets the short straw. His will be the show trial.

There is no doubt but that Lee Keegan initiated the contact and further intentional blocking led to retaliation by the Dubliner. As usual in these matters, it is the person who is provoked and retaliates that suffers the punishment. 

In all my years playing or watching the game, I have rarely if ever witnessed a forward start the illegal marking and perhaps you might ask ‘why would he?’ Does the linesman or referee not even think of this possibility?

Essentially these committees, by their actions, have left themselves in disrepute. It has been a very disappointing summer for both of them and a really poor start to the new President’s term.

The manner in which they dealt with Tiernan McCann (Tyrone) may well have been their low point, but they had many other dealings that went close enough to matching that daftness. Do they ever take a moment to see the damage they are doing to the game?

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