The last two weeks has seen plenty of analysis of the drawn game between Dublin and Mayo, with plenty of opinions on the match-ups, passing, shooting, intensity, kick-outs, possession stats and so on.
Along with those forensic examinations of every minute detail has come the suggestions as to what each team needs to do today to claim victory. But one area has escaped the attention of all these analysts, the mental attitude of the teams ahead of today’s game.
Those attitudes have looked at least from the outside to be totally different and they started at the final whistle two weeks ago. While Mayo were still fist pumping and doing interviews at pitch side as if they had at long last won an All Ireland title, Dublin had already angrily left the field bitterly disappointed at their performance and they were immediately in lockdown mode in their dressing room with the mental preparations already begun for the replay.
A type of siege mentality has been the order of the day for Dublin since. Just like the build up to the drawn game the media has been of full articles from the Mayo manager and his players, but there’s been no sight or sound of a Dublin player in the press, no interviews, no new advertisements for supermarkets or any other company or product, no appearances anywhere.
The media have been starved for information or players thoughts ahead of the game. It’s been left to ex-Dublin players and managers to do the interviews and give their opinions. Most of them highlighted the tactics employed by Lee Keegan on Diarmuid Connolly.
This led to anger from Mayo supporters and current and ex-players, whatever about supporters and ex-players expressing their displeasure at the opinions on Keegan, but when one or two of the current squad became involved in the discussion in the media, it left questions as to where their mental focus was.
Dublin manager Jim Gavin did his obligatory press day, but he didn’t give them many column inches. If you where to pick a song line to emphasise what a Jim Gavin press conference is like it would have to be one from a Ronan Keating song, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
The winning of games particularly in finals comes down to the fine margins and having the mental approach and attitude right can tip the game in a teams balance, the deafening silence from Dublin would suggest a team that is fully focused on the job in hand and one that will do their talking on the field of play, on the other side of the fence Mayo have done far too much talking and got far to distracted by media talk about one of their own. Plus with a lot of pundits suddenly tipping them for victory today, will the Mayo players believe their own press and arrive to confident.
Mayo may very well be in for a shock today from a fully focused, pumped up Dublin team, determined to wipeout the memory of their under par performance the last day out, with a plethora of players stung by the over the top criticism of their form still ringing in their ears and itching to prove those critics wrong.
Expect fireworks from the start and a whirlwind start from the sky blues and if Mayo are not fully mentally tuned in it could be a very long evening for the men from the west.
Verdict: Dublin by 5+ points.