Leading question: Which forwards do Dublin hold in reserve?

Over the weekend, a St Jude’s club-mate said it must be a delight to interview Kevin McManamon. Indeed, it is but the chances are few and far between.

The last chance came in January this year when he said the super substitute tag attached to him had become “a bit boring”.

He also mentioned how determined he was to be in the All-Ireland final parade having been a replacement in 2011, ’13 and ’15.

“It’s a big bullseye for me. I want to do something I’ve never done before and that’s be a big player for 70 minutes rather than what I’ve become accustomed to or what management decided for me. 

“Circumstances have decided as well – players playing better than me in the All-Ireland series – but there’s no doubt that that’s the goal.”

In his 30th year and in his sixth season, it’s been a long time coming but on what we’ve seen of him in this championship, McManamon will be following the Artane Band at 3.25pm this Sunday but who of the Dublin forwards is going to miss out?

Well, let’s look at the mainstays. 

Ciarán Kilkenny, for us the leading contender for footballer of the year ahead of Jonny Cooper and Colm Boyle, is the first name on the team-sheet. Diarmuid Connolly is next as he delivers more on his awesome talent. 

Then McManamon and Dean Rock. On the basis of form, there isn’t a chance of Rock losing his spot. Like McManamon, he’s a steelier customer, stung by how he was replaced at half-time by McManamon in last year’s final.

Bernard Brogan’s topsy-turvy summer may be a concern for Jim Gavin but only a slight one. His iffy form earlier in Leinster was forgotten with the 1-4 he bagged against Westmeath and there were signs of improvements last day out facing Kerry despite struggling against Donegal. 

His much-quoted impressive scoring record against Mayo would be a consideration for most managers but Gavin will select him on the present.

Four consecutive All-Stars to his name before last season, Paul Flynn has been playing like he’s struggling with his long-standing groin problem. Like 2015, he’s been playing deeper and his scoring contributions have dropped. An injury forced him off in the 46th minute against Kerry and if a forward is most in jeopardy of losing out it’s him.

Admittedly, there are few others who provide what Flynn does to the table and he was excellent in last year’s final. Paddy Andrews boasts versatility but Flynn’s athleticism is immense. 

Tomás Brady is a more of a like-for-like sub for Flynn. Similar to Andrews, Paul Mannion can also play in both lines but introducing his speed against an already stretched Mayo defence in the third or final quarter makes sense.

Eoghan O’Gara should also enter the fray in the second-half although Gavin may contemplate the havoc his presence from an early stage may have on a height-shy Mayo full-back line.

Three weeks ago, Cormac Costello made his first appearance for Dublin since replacing Brogan against Laois. 

Con O’Callaghan is a star in the making but for now he must be patient as Costello has been.

The pair could be fighting for one used subs spot as Gavin usually makes one switch in midfield and defence and the fitness worries around McCarthy and Flynn need to be noted.

So, no changes to the Dublin attack that started against Kerry, we dare to predict, but the order of merit has certainly altered.

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