Kerry great Aidan O’Mahony reckons it’s a myth that Dublin’s bench options have diminished as they close in on the five in a row. For the first time in seven All-Ireland finals under Jim Gavin, Dublin failed to get a score from their bench in last Sunday week’s drawn decider.
It was the second game running that Dublin subs didn’t score, having previously returned at least one point in 44 of the 45 Championship games played under Gavin. Dublin’s bench for the 1-16 to 1-16 stalemate also included inexperienced U20 midfielder Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne who appeared the intended replacement for Brian Fenton if the Raheny man, who played with a reported back injury, had to come off.
Diarmuid Connolly’s mid-summer recall was interpreted by some as evidence that Gavin isn’t fully convinced by the reserves at his disposal, though five-time All-Ireland winning O’Mahony rubbished this argument.
“Ah it is (still strong), you have lads coming in like Kevin McManamon, Diarmuid Connolly, I think Connolly had two kicks at goal, Cormac Costello had a kick as well,” said O’Mahony. “It took Hawk-Eye to get Cormac Costello’s one chalked off.
“So there’s no doubt about it, they’ve been tried and tested and those players have always impacted on games with Dublin. You can’t say that they are not the impact subs they were. They are still the same players, they might have lost a yard of pace but they fit into a system and that’s why they are brought on.
“The last day, they were down to 14 players — they couldn’t all be bombing forward. I think they will have learned a lot from the last day but to say their impact subs aren’t the same, I don’t agree with that.”
Injury plagued former Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue didn’t make the Kerry bench for the drawn game but, according to boss Peter Keane, had returned to training following a hamstring problem. He could be a fresh option from the bench this Saturday evening.
“For me, I would definitely have him on the panel,” said O’Mahony. “He’s one of those players that definitely brings something different, if he gets on the ball or if he’s given the ball he will score for you.
“I suppose James will be hurting as well, whether he was carrying an injury or not, that he wasn’t starting the last day so I would love to see him back on the panel and I would love to see him given game time as well.
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“I just think for the game the next day, both teams will have to bring something different. Nowadays teams do so much analysis on the opposition players and the players that are going to come in.
“That’s why I always talk about the Mayo game in 2016, I would say every one of those Mayo backs had the analysis done on every single (Dublin) player except probably Cormac Costello, they didn’t expect him to come in.
“Lo and behold, he comes in and you see lads are kind of standing off him and he kicks three points that day. I just think you need something like that the next day, it needs a little curveball from somewhere.
“Not from the start, it might be just the last 10 minutes when someone comes in and guys are saying, ‘What’s the story with this guy here, is he (kicking off his) left or is he right? What runs does he make?’ You would be hoping Kerry have one of them.”
Ireland Active will host the second Docklands Fitfest on National Fitness Day, September 26, as part of Dublin City Council’s Dublin Sportfest.