Many Dublin fans would beg to differ. Many believe that Dublin have widened the gap and are streets ahead of their competition, but not with any hint of complacency or cockiness. In the last couple of weeks pundits and ex players alike have been resounding in their opinion. Following their recent victory over Tyrone in the All Ireland Semi Final, red hand veteran Sean Kavanagh openly admitted this current Dublin panel is the greatest side he’s ever played against and thinks they will “comfortably” beat Mayo next Sunday week.
In his Independent column this week, Joe Brolly quoted “The Art Of War” were Sun Tau explains that the surest way to victory is to turn the enemy’s strengths against him. Which is exactly how he saw Jim Gavin’s strategy against Tyrone, beating them at their own game. A masterstroke of tactics.
So is there anyone that can silence this Dublin team? Is the three-in-a-row a foregone conclusion. Can Mayo be the team to stop the run?
In 2015 Alan Brogan stepped away from Inter County Football after an amazing career in the blue jersey. He’s played against them all, has suffered the lows and enjoyed the highs in equal measures. And the Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh man believes Mayo could be the only team readied to answer the call.
Speaking to the Irish Times at the launch of Ireland’s first Family SportsFest at the National Sports Campus this week Alan admitted that Mayo have the artillery, particularly up front to expose cracks in the Dublin defence, cracks that we have not yet really seen.
“Mayo are the only team, maybe bar Kerry, that are brave enough to really push up on Dublin.”
“Having seen Stephen Rochford teams play, they will drop a defender back at certain stages, Higgins or Boyle, but they will press up on the kick-outs.”
“That will test Dublin in a way they haven’t been tested before.”
One moment that Brogan honed in on was during the Leinster Final this year against Kildare, were Dublin let their opponents through far too easily but luckily Daniel Flynn’s goal chance wasn’t converted.
“That’s what Stephen Rochford and Mayo will look to do; try and get guys one on one . . . See if the Dublin defenders are as good as they have been made out to be.”
“Mayo will have to be brave,” Brogan continued, “press up on the kick-outs, try to occupy Cian O’Sullivan, which is easier said than done because Cian is very smart in the way he plays. He always manages to bring someone back to pick his man up so he can slot into that hole.”
Brogan also believes we won’t see Aidan O’Shea anywhere near full back like the two games against Kerry recently.
“I think [Rochford] has seen enough at this stage not to put him back in the full forward line.”
“The form of Andy Moran and Jason Doherty, it is no coincidence Aidan isn’t in there. I am not saying he is not good enough to play in there but he seems to clogging up a bit of space in there. I think they probably have to play him midfield or centre forward but I think midfield is the best spot for him.”
One thing is for sure, and it’s something Dublin fans will be familiar with over the last number of years is that Mayo certainly possess the courage to have a face to face football match with Dublin. So maybe there is some salt to Alan’s argument.
However it must be noted that this Dublin team have traversed the course so far without any major impact from the likes of Alan’s younger brother Bernard, Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn, Michael Darragh Macauley, Kevin McManamon or Eoghan O’Gara ahead of next Sunday’s decider.
Can we expect an encore from some of these multi All Ireland winners? We’ve only 11 days to wait.