By Peter McNamara
Jim Gavin said yesterday that Dublin will not be specifically attempting to counter the attacking threat of Aidan O’Shea at Croke Park on Sunday.
“We’d have confidence in our backs,” Gavin stressed in the Irish Examiner. “We play a particular brand of football and we wouldn’t stray too far from that philosophy. We base our core principles on attacking football and a very traditional style.”
Therefore, adapting to the explosive nature of O’Shea is off the agenda, he has strongly intimated. Gavin’s not for turning, apparently.
If you believe that you’ll believe anything, especially as Gavin later points out O’Shea is the “form player in Ireland at the moment”.
The Dublin supremo did go on to explain how O’Shea is far from being the only offensive player within Mayo’s arsenal his side will have to contain.
Yet, if anybody truly thinks Gavin will not be acutely mindful of the need to curtail the Breaffy clubman they are sadly mistaken.
Gavin will factor in how defenders can support Rory O’Carroll around the presence of O’Shea more so than any other full-forward the former would have encountered in 2015.
Dublin have been susceptible to blitzkrieg tactics in the past and I am not so sure they have addressed their concerns with the aerial bombardments that can be forced upon them by high-class opposing teams.
This is particularly true of units such as Mayo with totemic figures like O’Shea on the edge of the square.
Much is made regarding Dublin’s physical stature but the westerners are on an equal footing in this regard and so it would not surprise at all if Mayo were to slightly shade the middle-third collisions.
Tom Parsons has been an underappreciated revelation at midfield for Mayo alongside Seamus O’Shea.
Additionally, they were supplemented effectively, as the contest evolved, against Donegal by Barry Moran, shrewdly placed in behind them by joint-managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly.
Dublin wiped Mayo in the league.
However, Connelly said Mayo understand how Dublin operate now more so than before.
“We didn’t legislate for what happened that night in the league. We had got two points in Derry and again it’s a six-day turnaround. We didn’t train particularly hard in the league given that the boys had been on the road for four very difficult years,” he stated. “Dublin came to Castlebar that night really wanting and needing two points and they came with a huge intensity and we just weren’t up for it on the night and they blew us away.
“We’ll be focusing on the way Dublin have changed their style of play and gone more defensive in the last year. They have learned their lesson from Donegal last year. So really you have to focus on this year’s Championship and the way they are playing in that. And their league form.
“We’re under no illusions about the task that lies ahead but we would hope that we would be ready for that and put in a good performance.”
Mayo could creep into an All-Ireland SFC final with Kerry as it may be that Parsons and Seamus O’Shea generate enough aerial possessions for Aidan O’Shea to thrive.
Parsons’ display, in particular, was exemplary in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
If those two operators can retain their form at headquarters Dublin will find the going tougher than some believe.
In fact, were Parsons and Seamus O’Shea to soar centrally Dublin may be punished severely further up-field.
If you recall, Cork’s positioning of Ciarán Sheehan at full-forward caused Dublin untold problems in an All-Ireland quarter-final.
Daniel Goulding’s long-range, diagonal passes afforded Sheehan opportunities to punish the Metropolitans.
Of course, defensively the Boys in Blue have evolved and progressed since then.
Nevertheless, if there is one man capable of tormenting Dublin in a similar manner to the way in which Sheehan did that Saturday night at Croke Park in 2013, it is O’Shea.
Brian Hurley profited to the tune of 0-3 in open play for the Leesiders on that occasion while feeding off of Sheehan’s presence and those circulating O’Shea may well do likewise.