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5 talking points before Mayo and Kerry clash in today's replay

Kerry and Mayo go head-to-head in the Gaelic Grounds today at 5pm.

Mayo and Kerry meet in the Gaelic Grounds this evening.
Mayo and Kerry meet in the Gaelic Grounds this evening.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

1. Will we get a repeat of last Sunday?

The question on everybody’s mind. Last Sunday’s game was without doubt the best we’ve witnessed so far in the 2014 championship. It really had everything, from the sending off to Mayo’s brave resurgence and then Kerry’s late heroics.

Both sides enjoyed significant purple patches where they did some serious damage, but what really stood out was the character that both Kerry and Mayo showed during the game. Both counties looked dead and buried at various stages and could have just rolled over but neither side accepted that. There’s every chance another classic could unfold today.

James O'Donoghue with Keith Higgins James O'Donoghue bursts past Keith Higgins last Sunday. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

2. The impact of the six-day turnaround

A six-day turnaround is not something we are used to at this stage in the season. It’s generally an issue losing provincial finalists have to deal with, the last time time an All-Ireland semi-final was replayed with a six-day turnaround was back in 2004 between Mayo and Fermanagh. Mayo won that replay.

It remains to be seen what impact playing with 14 men for half the game will have on Mayo’s legs today. They were without one of their strongest runners in Lee Keegan for the entire second-half, which meant that the rest of the team had to work harder in his absence. Likewise, Kerry won’t have played a game as physically and emotionally taxing all year.

Declan O'Sullivan and Colm Gooch Cooper raise the Sam Maguire 17/9/2006 Declan O'Sullivan and Colm Cooper lift the Sam Maguire after defeating Mayo in 2006. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

3. Are Mayo still scarred from ’04 and ’06?

In last year’s All-Ireland final, against the best forward line in the game, Mayo’s backs went man-to-man against Dublin.

Yet it was interesting to note how much respect they showed to Kerry during the first-half last Sunday. The manner in which Horan set them up to double-mark James O’Donoghue and the fact that their half-backs tentatively sat back in the first-half begs the question – did they fear getting blown out of the water by Kerry in the first ten minutes like ’04 and ’06?

Once Mayo cut loose and really had a go after the break, Kerry couldn’t live with their pace and physicality. When Keith Higgins was discharged of his duties on O’Donoghue to push to wing-back, the speed at whicn the half-back line were coming at the ball caused Kerry big problems.

Which Mayo will we see today?

4. Room for improvement

Both sides gained many positives from the drawn game, but also have plenty to work on. Mayo looked flat in the opening half, but hit a far higher pitch after half-time. They must kick-on and bring that running game from the outset today.

Kerry allowed 14 men dictate the tempo of the second-half and failed to use their spare man to good effect last Sunday. Their switch to route-one football caused Mayo plenty of problems and targeting that area from the outset could reap dividends.

Andy Moran calls for his point to be given Mayo's Andy Moran calls for his point to be given in the drawn game. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

5. The Gaelic Grounds effect

It’s well documented that today’s game will be the first semi-final played outside Croke Park since 1983. The Croke Park Classic American Football game has forced this encounter to be switched to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, despite loud objections from Mayo.

The switch also means that Mayo must travel further and play in a venue that Kerry are well used to playing. Yet for a side who haven’t beaten Kerry in Croke Park since 1996, will the move to the provincial venue suit Mayo?

How the provincial venue impacts on today’s game will no doubt be a big matter of discussion, no matter what the outcome is.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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