Eoin Murchan a potential game-breaker for Dublin

Eoin Murchan a potential game-breaker for Dublin

When trying to predict which player or players could have a really serious impact on the All-Ireland SFC final replay, one man keeps on springing to mind having watched the drawn encounter back in full, writes Peter McNamara.

Eoin Murchan will probably not feature too frequently in journalists’ pieces this week as being a potential game-breaker.

In fact, the wing-back might not even make Jim Gavin’s revised starting 15, assuming his starting 15 is revised.

Yet, he stood out like a beacon in the final quarter when Dublin required leaders to ensure Kerry, a man to the good numbers-wise, did not deny Gavin’s charges a replay, at least.

Maybe it was only really because he entered the fray on 58 minutes replacing John Small so he was fresh while others would have been understandably waning, but Murchan’s energy was a potent weapon Dublin might well utilise from the off next Saturday.

Peter Keane’s defence could not handle his runs from deep and he, of course, set-up Dean Rock’s leveller when it seemed Dublin might be starting to run out of ideas as additional-time was almost up.

Ciarán Kilkenny dropped out to the middle-third to try and dictate the tempo of the contest from Dublin’s perspective and did that job as effectively as ever, but it was Murchan working in and around Kilkenny that allowed the Castleknock man to engineer attacks for their side.

Murchan’s selfless running created space for others, even when he was not on the ball himself and it was interesting to note that Charlie Redmond mentioned Murchan as being somebody who would add pace to the side in a similar way turf-scorcher Jack McCaffrey does.

Writing in a column, Redmond mused: ‘So what are the changes that I think Dublin will make?

‘Well, would James McCarthy move to midfield at Michael Darragh Macauley's expense?

‘That would get James into the game and allow MDMA to offer a bit of 'oomph' and impact from that bench, when he could bring his power and pace to bear in the second half.

‘So who would play at centre back? Cian O’Sullivan, if he's fit, or there’s Jonny Cooper or John Small.

‘Indeed, selecting Small would allow Eoin Murchan to start at wing-back.

‘A Dublin team playing badly still hurt Kerry last Sunday with their speed. Exhibit A – Jack McCaffrey.

‘Murchan is just as fast as Jack and made an impact when he came on as a blood sub.

‘And for that same quality of speed, I'd like to see Eric Lowndes as part of the Dublin 26 next Saturday.

‘He could have been an option for Jim Gavin last Sunday, to run at Kerry, but Jim didn't name him.

‘And what about a change in the forwards? Murchan is an option for a place in the forward line, bringing his defender’s instinct to tracking back.

‘But also to allow the Na Fianna man to run at Kerry’s back-line when he sees the opportunity.

‘Jim Gavin could also just simply start off with Connolly.

‘Yes, he wouldn't have the fitness to go for all the 70 minutes, but it would be a major curveball that would upset Kerry's defensive plans.

‘'Dermo' would simply have to have a man-marker! One of those players detailed to curtail Con O'Callaghan or Paul Mannion might have to be moved.

‘Kerry boss Peter Keane got so much right last Sunday, but he could not take the gamble of letting Connolly run loose for 25 minutes.

‘He'd have to put one of his very best defenders on the St Vincent's man.

‘And the last thing that might well be done differently for the replay is that Bernard Brogan should be a sub.

‘Just as there wouldn't be a full match in Connolly by starting him, there is also the option of a game-changer in the final 15 minutes of the match in Bernard.

‘Is there any other player you would want on the ball when it comes to taking a chance for a point at the end?

‘So much went wrong for Dublin in the draw – and they didn't lose.

‘They will get a lot more right next Saturday – and they will win.’

Whether Diarmuid Connolly will be included is anybody’s guess, but Redmond’s suggestion that Murchan is also an option in attack for Dublin makes sense, too.

Having him at wing-back or wing-forward will add a dimension to Dublin’s arsenal that Kerry might struggle to cope with as he is such a dynamic operator that he could pop up in pockets of space and either release other forwards or take on a scoring opportunity himself.

Aidan O’Mahony was another to acknowledge the impact Murchan made when introduced and with John Small apparently having picked up a hand injury, there is every reason to believe Gavin will hand Murchan a start.

In 2016, Mick Fitzsimons, having not started the drawn clash, began in the replay against Mayo and went on to earn the man of the match award.

Do not be at all surprised, that if Murchan starts this time, that he produces a display that will at least put him on the fringes of collecting the individual award.

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