Saturday 16 December 2017

Ray Cosgrove: Macauley too good not to start in the final

Dublin’s Michael Darragh MacAuley gets away from Chris Barrett of Mayo
Dublin’s Michael Darragh MacAuley gets away from Chris Barrett of Mayo

WHILE Cian O'Sullivan's hamstring has been occupying the gossip mongers, both in Dublin and Kerry alike, the issue of Dublin's starting midfield on Sunday is still yet to be settled.

Michael Darragh Macauley  had the most influential moments of the year after appearing as a substitute against Mayo two Saturdays back.

Ergo, the 2013 Footballer of the Year starts?

Brian Fenton, it would seem, is guaranteed to get the nod, such are the consistency of his displays and his performance throughout the Mayo replay.

And Denis Bastick's ability to attack an opposition kick-out, particularly against noted fielders such as David Moran and Anthony Maher is not easily dismissed either.

And on the presumed logic that the match will, regardless of either selection, be tight going into the last 20 minutes, is it not better to be throwing Macauley into that looser, more frantic equation than either of the aforementioned pair?

"I think he will start ahead of Denis the next day," says Ray Cosgrove.


"I think he offers too much to leave him on the bench.

"I think Dublin have got to compete much better in that middle third area and I think Michael Darragh offers you that, his mobility, his industrious work.

"I think he had 16 possessions when he came on the last day," Cosgrove notes.

"If he has that much ball you're giving yourself a chance to create options inside. I'd believe, Footballer of the Year two years ago, he has to start."

The offset of that move is the dilution of Dublin's strength in reserve, perhaps the most cited explanation for their last quarter surge against Mayo.

"I think he's always said that he wants to finish the game with a stronger team than he starts with." Cosgrove points out.

"A case in point, Kev Mc (Manamaon).

"The arguments for Kevin making such an impact while he doesn't really start, if a fella's coming in and he's killing off games, you'd be foolish to change that.

"As a footballer Kevin wants to be starting, he wants to be one of the six forwards.

"He's at the mercy of the management because he is doing exactly what you want a sub to do to come in and change the game.

"And Jim and his management team are relatively conservative when they pick the team.

"They won't make wholesale changes over the year so he's never come and slashed the hook and got rid of three or four fellas.

"He'll tweak one or two things and I assume he'll do that,' Cosgrove reckons.

"He probably has an idea what his best 15 is and will stick as close to that as he possibly can."

The 2002 All Star is also expectant of a much more sustained impact from Diarmuid Connolly who, for obvious reasons, didn't shine quite so brightly against Mayo.

"Diarmuid had a huge amount of distractions the last day coming into the game," Cosgrove says.

"Wasn't easy on him. If you were to judge him on a scale of one to 10, he was well below par and I think the circus that was surrounding him last time will be gone and you can expect a much, much better display from one of the best footballers in the country.

"I think he'll express himself and he'll want to prove a lot of people wrong and just show the array of talent that he has."

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