Monday 11 December 2017

Kevin McStay: Lack of real scoring threat undermines Mayo as Dubs' power in depth seals victory

James McCarthy, Dublin, in action against Ger Cafferkey, Mayo
James McCarthy, Dublin, in action against Ger Cafferkey, Mayo

First things first, I think both teams should be commended for producing a hugely enjoyable game on Saturday with the first-half as good as one could possibly see.

It was helped by the excellent refereeing of Eddie Kinsella although he was of course helped by the new-found mutual respect between the players which was lacking during the tempestuous draw.

There were many factors why Dublin ended up with the win but in simple terms, their greater fire-power was the difference between the sides and their final score of 3-15 was never likely to have been matched by Mayo.

One damning statistic that reflects Mayo's struggles in attack was that their last point from play by a forward arrived as early as the 31st minute and when you cannot rely on your forwards in pivotal games like this, it makes your task next to impossible. Year after year, Mayo have harboured genuine grounds of optimism in their quest for All-Ireland honours but time after time, their inadequacies in that department have mitigated against their chances.

Dublin, in contrast, could rely on a number of players for scores and when your corner-back kicks 1-2, there's every chance you'll end up with the right result.

I appreciate that Paddy Andrews was in excellent form for Dublin, kicking five sublime points but my vote for Man of the Match would have been Philly McMahon.

Not only did the Ballymun Kickhams players nullify the threat of Aidan O'Shea, he exposed O'Shea's reluctance or inability to track back and that factor was hugely detrimental to Mayo as the contest evolved.

O'Shea was similarly exposed in the 2013 All-Ireland final and Dublin exploited his lack of mobility to great effect again and that match-up allowed Dublin to gain the upper-hand the longer the game went on. Naturally, Dublin's strength in depth was hugely noticeable with the performances of Michael Darragh Macauley, Alan Brogan, Michael Fitzsimons and Kevin McManamon all contributing to their supremacy in the concluding 15 minutes.

They powered past their opponents during this crucial stage and they will be encouraged by the fact they came back from four points down on two separate occasions which reflects well on their composure and tenacity.

As for the marginally contentious issues of the game, I don't think Mayo can have any complaints regarding Seamus O'Shea's black card or McMahon's goal with officials making the right call on both occasions.

Naturally, Mayo will be devastated by the defeat and despite another brave and committed display, they will rue not having the fire-power to see out the game, a recurring theme unfortunately, and ultimately that is what separates them from finally claiming an All-Ireland title.

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