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Dublin v Mayo, All-Ireland senior football final match guide

Who’s going to win the big one in Croke Park tomorrow?

Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley.
Mayo's Aidan O'Shea and Dublin's Michael Darragh MacAuley.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

All-Ireland SFC final

Dublin v Mayo

Sunday, 3.30pm

Croke Park, Dublin

Ref: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

Latest from the medics and management…

Mayo’s big selection call was in attack. Cillian O’Connor and his damaged shoulder are named at corner-forward but it remains to be seen if he will start. They’re unchanged elsewhere from the win over Tyrone.

MAYO: Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Chris Barrett (Belmullet); Lee Keegan (Westport), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe), Colm Boyle (Davitts); Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Alan Dillon (Ballintubber); Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Alan Freeman (Aghamore), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen).

Dublin make just the one change to their team with Philly McMahon coming in to the defence to replace Kevin O’Brien.

DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton (Parnells); Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams), Rory O’Carroll (Kilmacud Crokes), Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna); James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams), Ger Brennan (St Vincents), Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf); Michael D MacAuley (Ballyboden St Enda’s), Cian O’Sullivan (Kilmacud Crokes); Paul Flynn (Fingallians), Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock), Diarmuid Connolly (St Vincents); Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes), Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s), Bernard Brogan (St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh).

Checking the odds…

There’s little to choose between these two sides. Dublin are priced at evens, Mayo are priced at 6/5 with the draw available at 9/1.

Clues from the form guide…

What have we learned about Dublin this year? They pack a ferocious punch up front in raising an average of 17 white flags and bagging an average of two goals per game. They have a contender for Footballer of the Year at midfield and he is joined by a player who bolstered their challenge considerably in the last two games.

At the back there were sirens blaring against Kerry. They sprung resources from the bench for assistance and while they faced an attack of remarkable quality then, they still must sharpen up on tomorrow.

What have we learned about Mayo this year? There have been improvements that are easy to discern.

Their defence looks sturdier than it did 12 months ago and we must assume that they have absorbed the lessons of that horror start against Donegal last year. They have an array of players raiding forward who are capable of scoring.

Their brothers at midfield are a formidable duo and while they are concerns through injury and form over marquee attackers, others have showed flashes of form to suggest they are better footballers in 2013 than they were in 2012.

image

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

The game breakers are…

For Dublin see Bernard Brogan who is showing signs of returning to elite form, Michael Darragh MacAuley who has been majestic in the middle and Diarmuid Connolly whose display against Kerry was dripping with class.

At the back they need Rory O’Carroll and James McCarthy to help provide greater reassurance. And for exciting young guns Ciaran Kilkenny and Jack McCaffrey, it is important to bounce back from the small speed bump they hit in their performances against Kerry.

For Mayo see Aidan O’Shea, the outstanding footballer in the land this year. Their full-back Ger Cafferkey, who needs to command an area that been the scene of disasters for his county in September. While the elder attacking statesmen Alan Dillon and Andy Moran must impose themselves on this contest.

They could do with Lee Keegan and Donal Vaughan setting Dublin on the backfoot with marauding runs while the Cillian O’Connor issue will most likely mean a big input from Alan Freeman.

Then there are the impact of the benches. Michael Conroy or Kevin McManamon? Richie Feeney or Denis Bastick? Enda Varley or Dean Rock?

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Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Gazing into the crystal ball…

The match is loaded with potential and if we are to believe that Mayo will not crumble at the start, then it should be a gripping game all the way to the finish. Dublin certainly have the staying power to go all the way, their team benefiting from the cool hand of Jim Gavin at the tiller.

Mayo’s tortured record in these showpiece events has to end some day but that’s not a persuasive enough reason to believe they will win. What is persuasive is the growth and maturity they have displayed since James Horan took over.

Their demolition job of Donegal was impressive but thinking their way to success against Tyrone when playing sluggishly was even more so.

Dublin have blazed a trail through the summer but Mayo are better than opponents they have faced. After all those years of learning, they can put the lessons to use.

Verdict… Mayo

Conor Deegan: ‘The best two teams in 2013 have reached the biggest day’

Check out this superb open letter to the Mayo team from a supporter

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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