WHAT DUBLIN MUST GET RIGHT
Dublin do the simple things extraordinary well. This must continue. They win their kickouts easily, they quickly move the ball through the lines and they accurately pass the ball to the player in the best position.
Crucially, the player entrusted with shooting always does so with full backing of his team. Mayo will have extra cover in defence so Dublin will adopt their PPP (Patient Play Policy) in order to create scores.
Dublin’s inside dice of Mannion-O’Callaghan-Rock-Kilkenny is key to this. Their movement and ball-winning abilities, the ease with how they change positions and their multiple range in how they score goals.
Add in their ferocious appetite in hunting down the ball when they lose it makes them great players.
The inter-changing of Con O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny can’t be underestimated as they will read the game very quickly and sense when Mayo are tiring. Mayo tiredness equals Dublin scores.
WHAT MAYO MUST GET RIGHT
Balance - the balance between defending & attacking. Mayo have gone away from their one-v-one defending at the back due to longevity and are supplementing their defence with retreating midfielders/half-forwards.
Needs must policy as they’ve struggled against Roscommon and Kerry when they left gaps at the back. Mayo have a massive Catch 22 conundrum facing them.
Does Colm Boyle and Aidan O’Shea sit deeper and allow Con O’Callaghan and Brian Fenton have time and space? If this happens, will Fionn McDonagh and Paddy Durcan get to O’Callaghan and Fenton in time.
Say they do, that will leave Jack McCaffrey and James McCarthy free. Can Mayo afford to leave McCaffrey and McCarthy free for any length of time? Mayo have to get this balance right as they won’t score goals if they are constantly in defensive mode and they need goals to win this match.
THE DECISIVE DUEL: Michael Darragh McCauley v Seamus O’Shea
In a game peppered with intriguing duels, the McCauley v O’Shea one - if it comes to pass, of course - will have a huge bearing on the game. Naturally, Michael Darragh McAuley mightn’t start as James McCarthy has excelled beside Brian Fenton in the past but McCauley is currently playing exceptional football.
He will make space for himself and his team with his pounding running style. He has the ability to set up huge amounts of typical Dublin scores – High Percentage Shots Around the ‘D’. He’s a battering ram who’ll collect scraps on the ground and forage hard into the heart of the Mayo defence.
Any chink of light in the Mayo rear-guard and he’ll keep motoring and set up an easy tap-in goal. Can Seamus O’Shea keep a leash on McCauley and stop him at source?
If he can, Michael Dara patience might be tested which could result in an early shower for McCauley and a big advantage for Mayo.