OpinionCharlie Redmond

Charlie Redmond: This Dublin team is on the cusp of greatness

Charlie RedmondBy Charile Redmond
'Deano’ leads the Championship scoring table by 14 points with still a game to play
'Deano’ leads the Championship scoring table by 14 points with still a game to play

This Dublin football team stands on the cusp of greatness this morning.

Win today’s All-Ireland Final and they will, without question, be the greatest Sky Blue outfit of all time.

Yes, the 1970s side made a different kind of breakthrough. They came from a city where Gaelic Games made little or no impact and turned it into the home of Heffo’s Army.

But another Sam bagged by 5.10pm would be Dublin’s fourth in six years – with Kerry beaten on the way to each of them.

Those two stats would be enough to leave Stephen Cluxton’s men in a world of their own.

The memories of 2012 and last year’s semi-finals will insure against any complacency. 

Dublin lost the first of those matches and might have lost either of the games played last year.

They know Mayo have class, skill, hunger and determination.

So Dublin must bring all those qualities to their performance and then they must add the cherry on their cake – that they have better footballers and a better bench.

For me, Mayo just haven’t got the forwards to match Diarmuid Connolly, Kevin McManamon, Bernard Brogan and the much-improved Dean Rock.

‘Deano’ leads the Championship scoring table by 14 points with still a game to play.

He has been nothing short of astonishing this year and his presence means Mayo know, when Dublin are running at them, they dare not foul. For Rock will convert the free.

Of course Mayo can win. They will take heart from Tipperary slaying the Kilkenny giants two weeks ago.

The trouble is an hour before throw-in in the hurling decider, Tipp had moved to clear 5/6 favourites with the bookies.

As I write this, those same guys will give you 100/30 about Mayo winning – those are very different odds.

If Mayo are to win they have to come up with something completely different to what they have been doing all year, with Kevin McLoughlin as sweeper.

If Mayo go with five forwards and allow an unmarked Cian O’Sullivan the time and space to cut the supply to their forwards I simply cannot see where Mayo will get enough scores to beat Dublin.

They’ve got to go man-to-man and take their chances. Mayo weren’t far away in 2015, playing just that way.

Giving Dublin easy possession, by playing a forward light, will eventually break their defence.

They will be steam-rolled trying to keep out Dublin’s forwards if they are taking ball after ball easily and coming forward in waves.

There are two other issues for Mayo. The first is the fact that they ditched their management team last year.

It was a brave thing to do by a bunch of players who believe they have an All-Ireland in them. But in doing so they stuck a target on their back, a target that means they have to deliver.

And that’s the second issue. If the scores are level with ten minutes to go, every Mayo footballer will know he is ten minutes from becoming a legend. Every Mayo person in the crowd will be going ballistic, they will be hysterical.

I don’t know the Mayo lads well. But, having dumped the management and come back so well from so many hurtful defeats, they must have leaders in abundance in the dressing-room, men of character.

But will they ALL step up? Because that is when every Dublin player will step up, as they did against Kerry.

It is when Dublin’s bench will count, when a player like Paddy Andrews (above), who would start for any other county in the country, will come on and do damage, as he did so spectacularly against Mayo last year.

For me, it’s Dublin to win by five or six points and thus take their place in history.