| 10.6°C Dublin

MATCH VERDICT Cavan's hunger and attitude won't be enough to topple supreme Dubs

Close

Jason McLoughlin, who did a great man-marking role on Michael Murphy, celebrates following Cavan's Ulster final victory against Donegal

Jason McLoughlin, who did a great man-marking role on Michael Murphy, celebrates following Cavan's Ulster final victory against Donegal

SPORTSFILE

Dean Rock of Dublin blast the ball to the Meath net in the Leinster final

Dean Rock of Dublin blast the ball to the Meath net in the Leinster final

SPORTSFILE

/

Jason McLoughlin, who did a great man-marking role on Michael Murphy, celebrates following Cavan's Ulster final victory against Donegal

Let’s cut to the chase. Of course, playing in Croke Park gives Dublin an advantage. But, irrespective of where this game was played, Dublin would win it.

But given this is the first time these Cavan players have featured in an All-Ireland semi-final, surely they would prefer to play in Croke Park – even if it is empty. It is the field of dreams.

There is no point sugar-coating this preview. Dublin will win because they are the best team in the land by a country mile.

I could fill this preview with a raft of statistics demonstrating how good they are. I have 15 reasons written down on a sheet of paper explaining why they’re so great.

I will spare readers all that, but having watched them up close and personal against Meath I just cannot highlight enough their work rate, intensity, movement and never-give-up attitude. It is just relentless.

Of course, there is much to admire about this fine Cavan team.

Their hunger, attitude, and fitness levels – the Ulster final victory was their sixth game in as many weeks – are all first class.

Their ability to turnover possession is a key feature of their game plan. They turned Donegal over on 26 occasions which led directly to them scoring 0-7.

The players who have come off the bench have made an immense contribution; their composure at the business end of games is admirable, as is their ability to kick long-range points.

Close

Dean Rock of Dublin blast the ball to the Meath net in the Leinster final

Dean Rock of Dublin blast the ball to the Meath net in the Leinster final

SPORTSFILE

Dean Rock of Dublin blast the ball to the Meath net in the Leinster final

Team manager Mickey Graham is a sharp operator. He used alternative man-markers on Donegal dangerman Michael Murphy, but his best tactical move was moving a corner-back, Jason McLoughlin, up the field to mark Ryan McHugh. It worked a treat.

But it is Cavan’s refusal to bend the knee which makes them stand out. They were six points down with ten minutes to go against Monaghan. They were behind at half-time against Antrim and came from ten points adrift against Down.

What’s more, is that they played against Donegal for 20 minutes with 14 men, having picked up two black cards.

Against Antrim they played for 30 minutes with 14 men after picking up three black cards and they also picked up two black cards against Down.

But this Dublin team is in a different league to anything they have faced before. The wide expanses of Croke Park and the firm sod won’t suit the underdogs.

As Tipperary did against Cork, Cavan need to play this match quarter by quarter and take advantage of any scoring opportunity that comes their way.

They cannot afford to cough up soft possession either, because Dublin’s transition game is awesome. The ball will be down the other end of Croker before they have time to blink.

It will be a moral victory for the Breffni men if they can keep the final margin down to single digits.

Verdict: Dublin

ALL-IRELAND SFC SEMI-FINAL

Dublin v Cavan, Croke Park, Saturday, 5.30pm, Live on RTE2 & Sky Sport

Online Editors


Privacy