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Thursday 14 December 2017

Dubs need hard core: O'Mahony

Diarmuid Connolly
Diarmuid Connolly

GIVEN both teams' recent struggles against the forces of constriction, and their own apparent unwillingness to indulge thus far, maybe we'll see Dublin and Mayo cut loose on one another this Saturday night.

"The only little bit of pressure is on Dublin to get a couple of points, but even if they didn't win them at the weekend, they should still survive," says former Mayo, Galway and Leitrim boss, John O'Mahony, teasing out the prospect that we might see a little football played in McHale Park between teams with a tetchy recent history.

However, they are two counties who nevertheless broadly share an ethos at odds with the current defence-obsessed trend in the game.

"Mayo, if they pick up another three or four (points), they're definitely in the semi-finals.

"So it could be a game where we could see two teams unleashing something close to their absolute potential.

"Neither is that comfortable in a total defensive situation. So it could be a shoot out.

"Because there will be a huge amount of talent on the pitch, regardless of which 30 players are on at any given time."

Dublin's need for points might be a little more urgent than O'Mahony makes out in the naked context of this competition, yet Jim Gavin has been consistent all year that the utilisation of a high number of players (41 this year in O'Byrne Cup and League) and the tweaking of his team's on field terms of reference will remain their priorities, regardless of league position.

"It's an interesting dynamic now, given Dublin need points coming to Castlebar," he points out.

"They're going through a lot of experimentation but it's getting towards the latter stages of the league now.

"They'll want to be safe but having won the last two leagues, it won't concern them greatly whether they're in the shakeup or not."

CONTRADTICTION

"That's the contradiction about Dublin at the minute.

"While they have huge choice, and while they have a lot of options, it's becoming very apparent that their key players need to be very much part of that team for success.

"The Paul Flynns, the Brogans, the Connollys, Stephen Cluxton … they are crucial.

"They have options. Plenty of them. But they need that core.

"Because it will probably be Leinster final time before we get a full signal from Dublin as to whether they're going to return with a vengeance or not."

O'Mahony also acknowledges: "It's a big year for Mayo. There's no doubt about that.

"They have been so close in the last few years and it looks like at the minute that they're going to be in the shake-up in the league.

"And I think it would be good for them if they could win the League."

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