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Tuesday 6 December 2016

O'Carroll has what it takes to curtail Mayo's powerhouse O'Shea: Keaveney

26 August 2015; Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail with Cork's Jimmy Barry Murphy, left, and Dublin's Jimmy Keaveney, right, who were announced into the GAA Museum Hall of Fame. GAA Museum, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
26 August 2015; Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail with Cork's Jimmy Barry Murphy, left, and Dublin's Jimmy Keaveney, right, who were announced into the GAA Museum Hall of Fame. GAA Museum, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Jimmy Keaveney believes Dublin will beat Mayo in this Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final en route to a third Sam Maguire Cup triumph in five summers - putting them on par with the great Dublin team of the 1970s.

The Dubs narrowly prevailed against the Connacht side in the 2013 decider but the St Vincent's legend feels the quality of personnel available to manager Jim Gavin will help set up a mouthwatering showdown with old rivals Kerry.

Keaveney praised the extraordinary set up cultivated by Gavin and feels that the wealth of talent at their disposal makes them favourites.

"It's theirs to lose," said Keaveney, who yesterday was inducted into the GAA Museum Hall of Fame. "The only worry is that they haven't been tested yet but they're experienced players. I hope they go on to win their third All-Ireland and maybe a fourth one so everyone will forget about us."

"Mayo are a good team but I think the Dublin set up is amazing. They've great players all over the field and fellas on the bench who would get on most county teams."

The St Vincent's man is convinced that Rory O'Carroll can negate the threat of Mayo dangerman Aidan O'Shea without the use of a sweeper system, a phenomenon he has not warmed to.

"Rory O'Carroll is quite capable of handling him. Rory has been playing well and he's disciplined enough to know exactly all of O'Shea's tricks. He'll be prepared for him and his two corner-backs will help him out there too," Keaveney said.

Sweeper

"I don't believe in the sweeper thing, the full-back takes him and that's his job.

"I wouldn't put two players on him, what's the other player that you're supposed to be marking going to do then? He could do all the damage."

Keaveney doesn't like many modern aspects of Gaelic football and yearns for simpler times, he said: "They're going to have to curtail the handpass. The name of the game is football and there are some players coming off the field that haven't kicked the ball at all. It's something that's destroying the game.

"I think if the rules can be tweaked around a bit, it's still a great game. But I couldn't live the life of a modern footballer. The enjoyment has to go out of it with the amount of training they're doing. We trained hard but we enjoyed ourselves."

The 70-year-old lauded the exploits of club-mate Diarmuid Connolly and believes his new role as vice-captain has helped him reach a level of consistency to match his marquee talent.

"Diarmuid is a class footballer," he said. "He's a fella who's well disciplined now and he's putting his all into the game. To me he's one of the finds for Dublin for years and years.

Ability

"He has realised his ability and he doesn't want to throw it away. It's mad because I'd nearly say he's a better hurler than footballer."

Keaveney also compared Gavin's prowess with that of his old boss Kevin Heffernan, he said: "I think Jim has more talent at his disposal now than Kevin had. We won our first All-Ireland and the bulk of us were in our late twenties whereas Jim got a relatively young team and they're getting better and better as they go along."

Keaveney hasn't ruled out a return in 2016 for Ger Brennan, who has been dogged with injury in recent years.

"If he gets fit he's worth his place on the team. Ger is one of the strongest players I know, he'd go through a wall for you," he said.

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