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Selection dilemma for Gavin

Proximity of semi-final a factor for Sunday


FORWARD POWER: Dublin’s Paul Mannion Pic: Sportsfile

FORWARD POWER: Dublin’s Paul Mannion Pic: Sportsfile


FORWARD POWER: Dublin’s Paul Mannion Pic: Sportsfile

With qualification to the semi-finals of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship already assured, Dublin face a dilemma of sorts when they meet Roscommon in their concluding Super 8s Group 2 match in Croke Park this Sunday (3.30).

Having their semi-final scheduled for six days later will place a degree of pressure on Jim Gavin in terms of finding the right balance between giving valuable game-time to fringe players and ensuring players are suitably refreshed for their last-four clash.

"That's the problem for Dublin in that their semi-final comes so quickly after Sunday's match," said former Dublin selector Brian Talty.

"They usually take every game so seriously and they are so consistent in terms of their attitude that it would be highly unlikely that they will alter things too much.

"Of course, anyone that is carrying a knock of any kind will undoubtedly be rested and if there are players with slight niggles, they can be replaced by players who will be very keen to lay down a marker for selection for the semi-final.

"Competition for places, both on the starting 15 but also for the match-day panel, has always driven this team forward and next Sunday is no different.

"There are certain players that haven't been too involved over the past couple of weeks and if they are given a chance against Roscommon, I'd imagine they will look to make the most of that opportunity and put their hand up for Saturday week," said Talty.

Irrespective of injury concerns, Dublin manager Gavin (below) may also use Sunday's dead-rubber as a chance to rest players.

Certain individuals have possibly not matched the high standards that they have set in the past and Talty feels that there may be currency in resting Cuala attacker Con O'Callaghan from the starting line-up.

The dual player has looked short on confidence in both the Donegal and Tyrone matches and while the work-rate and desire is still evident, the calmness in front of goal has proved elusive of late.

"You couldn't criticise the effort that Con O'Callaghan is producing but there's no denying that he has been on a long run for the past couple of years," stated Talty of the All-Ireland club SHC two in-a-row Cuala hurling sensation.

"While he hasn't looked particularly tired in terms of his work-rate, there is a possibility that he is mentally fatigued after his almost non-stop efforts for his club and county in both football and hurling.

"During that period, he has been extremely high-profile and maybe there is an awful lot of expectation on his shoulders after last year's great year.


"It's certainly possible that Dublin may look at resting him to freshen things up in attack and they might also have a look at Paul Mannion.

"He's not really getting the scores at the minute but I'm sure the management are delighted with how hard he is working for the team.

"He is running up and down the pitch in energy-sapping runs and while he is sometimes found in positions where he is not supposed to be, I'm sure the lads will be happy for the defensive work that he is putting in.

"That is just the way that Dublin play at present where there is a responsibility to track back and he is just adhering to the game-plan that Dublin have.

"The 'Old School' approach would prefer to see him closer to the opponents goal where he can do some damage on the scoreboard but for now, the scores are being found elsewhere on the team so it shouldn't be a major issue of concern," added Talty.

Irrespective of the individual issues, collectively, Dublin looked in a good place against Tyrone last Saturday week as they negotiated a tricky assignment with a minimum of fuss.

Victory in Omagh assured Dublin their semi-final berth as well as top spot in the Group and there were signs in that performance that the Dubs were beginning to click in terms of the intensity on show.

"I think that Dublin noticeably lifted it for the Tyrone match and their work-rate, tackling and pure power were of the highest quality," said Talty.

"They showed the right attitude throughout and they answered almost all of the questions that they were asked by an impressive Tyrone team.

"They (Tyrone) are improving all the time and could still play a big part in the championship as they seemed to have unearthed a couple of new forwards.

"It's important that Dublin time their run correctly and although it's very hard to know exactly where they are at the minute, their display against Tyrone would have been encouraging from their perspective," concluded the former Galway midfielder.