Thursday, 19 September 2013 Sports
This Sunday will see arguably the most anticipated All-Ireland Football final in recent seasons as Connaught champions Mayo travel to Croke Park to take on Leinster victors Dublin!
Mayo and Dublin! The Culchies and the Jackeens! A great rivalry that usually only comes along once every ten years or so is now upon us for the third time in seven seasons and the second year in a row.
Prior to 2006 the sides had not met since 1985 and Mayo had never beaten Dublin in an All-Ireland final. Since that fateful day when Mayo came back from seven points down and Ciaran MacDonald scored the winning point Mayo have had the Indian sign over the metropolitans in championship football.
In 2012 Dublin went into the semi final as favourites, much like in 2006, and they were also the defending champions. Mayo came onto the field and blitzed the champions off the park, building up a ten point lead. When Kevin McLoughlin had to be replaced on 45 minutes, however, Mayo seemed to do everything they could to throw away the game. Letting Dublin come back to within three points and but for David Clarke's heroics against Bernard Brogan that game would have had a seriously different outcome.
Fast forward to this season and the two best teams in the country by a fair distance have reached the final. For the first time since the 1921 final, which was played in 1923, Mayo and Dublin meet on the biggest day in Irish sport.
Question marks hang over both sides in the lead up to the final. In Mayo the talk is all about Cillian O'Connor's shoulder and if he would be fit enough to play in the final. There are also question marks over the role of Andy Moran but I would fully expect both players to be on the pitch when the ball is thrown in at 3.30!
More questions can be asked of Dublin following their victory over Kerry. Does Jim Gavin stick with Kevin O'Brien in the full back line or bring in Philly Mahon? Ger Brennan is a clear weak link in the heart of the Dublin defense so does Gavin keep faith in him or bring in Dennis Bastick and move Cian O'Sullivan back to number 6?
Many people have been of the belief in recent years that midfield is no longer that important in the general scheme of things. This year that has changed. Both Mayo and Dublin have built their successes from midfield and whoever wins that battle will ultimately take home the biggest glory. No matter how good your sides attack may be, if they cannot win the ball in the middle then they cannot attack.
This game is possibly the closest final to call in many years as both sides have looked very impressive on their march to All-Ireland final day. Both sides have impressive benches that cannot be separated and even on the field they are equal.
Unlike previous finals involving Mayo I cannot see this one being decided in the opening 10-15 minutes. This one will go all the way to the wire but looking at both sides performances to date and the players available to them I am going to trump for a Mayo victory by a solitary point. If you are of a similar opinion then back Mayo now as here at the Pack we are TOP PRICE on Mayo to win in 70 and to lift Sam.
By: Michael Kelly
BET NOW Mayo V Dublin