The big day has arrived and Dublin and Donegal will once again do battle on the hallowed turf of Croke Park at 6pm in the All Ireland quarter final.
All the talk and analysis is done and all the conjecture about how Donegal will set up and where Michael Murphy will be positioned, will be answered this evening.
Most pundits believe Murphy should be played on the edge of the square and Donegal to launch long high ball in the Glenswilly man’s direction to exploit a perceived weakness in the Dublin backline.
Whatever tactical setup Donegal employ today Philly McMahon says the Dublin backline is well prepared and up to the challenge.
“If people say ‘let’s challenge Dublin in their full-back line, let’s hit a load of high balls in’, do they think we are not going to work on that, like?” Philly McMahon told The Herald somewhat incredulously.
“I think the good thing is that people talk up our full-back line (as being potentially vulnerable) and that influences the team we are playing to try things that we know we should be practising,” points out the Dublin defender.
All this talk of course stems from two things, the absence of Rory O’Carroll who has been the best fullback in the country over the last five years and the small amount of success that Laois and Westmeath enjoyed from the high ball approach.
“I suppose (Donie) Kingston got one high ball in, in the first half,” McMahon concedes, “that was it”.
“He got a free from it. Then the second half he got two or three balls obviously. But Westmeath, they got one ball in.
“It’s great that people are talking this area up in the game and these tactics.
“We work on all aspects of it, unless there is some unknown tactic that some team is going to come up with …which is what Donegal done in 2014.”
The lack of competition in Leinster is also spoken about at length and the feeling is that the Dubs come into the knockout stages of the championship possibly undercooked, with any flaws in their system not yet exposed or if they have the hunger to go to the well again when serious questions are asked. McMahon admits mentally he finds the Leinster Championship a challenge.
“I find the Leinster Championship a harder challenge mentally,” McMahon counters, “because you are surrounded by people constantly telling you you are playing weaker teams.
“So that is a big challenge. It’s not that we treat the teams that we play in Leinster different to the teams that we play outside of Leinster, it’s just your environment is a little bit different.
“You are constantly talking to people who are talking down teams so that changes a little bit.”
But for all the talk of tactics,systems and playing styles, McMahon hasn’t seen anything particularly different or new from any of the teams the Dubs have faced in the League or Championship to date.
“We haven’t come up against anything that’s different to teams either going man on man against us or the hybrid defence so those are the two kind of things most teams are doing.
“Some teams are doing a little bit of both. Apart from that I haven’t seen anything tactically different.”