Conal Keaney has predicted that Mayo will attempt to draw Dublin into a battle at Croke Park and then hope that Jim Gavin’s side ‘fall apart’ in the final 10 minutes.
The Dublin hurler, who won five Leinster football titles in the late 2000s, acknowledged it’s unlikely that plan will work but said he couldn’t rule out Mayo being successful.
Keaney reckons the short turnaround between huge games won’t be a problem for Mayo, who beat Donegal last weekend, because their appetite for a famous win over rivals Dublin will sustain them.
The Ballyboden St Enda’s man gave James Horan’s side a fighting chance of a famous win, stating that he ‘wouldn’t put it beyond them’ winning the semi-final tie.
“They (Mayo) want to get to the last 10 minutes, the last 15 and get into a battle and they’re hoping Dublin will fall apart, I’m sure, as Dublin haven’t been tested in the last 10 or 15 minutes of a game, and see how they react,” said Keaney.
That’s probably their mentality, ‘Let’s get to the last 10 or 15 minutes and see what happens, if we can get it into a big battle we’ll come out on top’.
Keaney agreed with the suggestion that it’s unlikely the four-in-a-row champions, who beat Mayo in the 2013, 2016 and 2017 finals, would fall apart in that scenario but said it can’t be ruled out.
“Dublin have so many quality players on the pitch, and off the pitch, that can change the game so quickly, so it’s unlikely, but it’s not beyond the bounds of what could happen,” he said.
“It could be just one of those days where everything goes wrong for Dublin and everything Mayo are kicking is going over.
I heard a stat that they’ll need to kick one out of two but realistically they’ll probably need to kick nearly everything over at the weekend. I’ve seen Mayo do it so I wouldn’t put it beyond them.
Keaney, 36, who returned from retirement to hurl for Dublin in 2018, said he’s still making up his own mind about potentially playing on in 2020.
“No, I haven’t even hardly watched any of the matches since,” he said, referencing Dublin’s unexpected exit from the Championship after losing a preliminary quarter-final to Laois. “I’ve just totally been away from it all.”
Keaney said he’s still optimistic about the current Dublin team’s chances despite the loss to Laois.
“Did it happen because we are not good enough, or because of some unknown reasons that we don’t know yet?” he said. “I still believe Dublin are as good as what is out there. You look at how good teams are now, I don’t think Dublin are far away.
“But I’ve been saying that for years, so we need to make sure we learn so that when we get that winning streak and get opportunities to win games that we are not relying on other results or any individual, and that the team is geared to win.”