Stephen Cluxton: his kick-outs are a vital weapon in Dublin’s overall strategy. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

In last Sunday’s drawn game Mayo showed how to, and how not to approach Stephen Cluxton’s scrupulous kick-out plan. In the first half(...)

Referee Joe McQuillan awards Mayo a penalty on Sunday. With no help from a TMO, a ref must depend on linesmen who pick up only half of what’s going on and umpires who are just along for the ride. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Watching Dublin versus Mayo on Sunday, I was trying to think was there any worse job in the world than being a referee. I couldn’t come up with one. I(...)

Philly McMahon battles with Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea. Dublin had a plan for O’Shea and it worked well but may have have been really troubled had Barry Moran joined him in the full forward line. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It was a day of high drama and tension in Croke Park. Dublin and Mayo produced a game of such extreme turning points that questions and debate will sw(...)

Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons, Jack McCaffrey, Philly McMahon,Tomas Brady, John Small and Paul Flynn foul Colm Boyle of Mayo resulting in a late penalty. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

What compels them? What is it about Mayo that requires them to take these grand, dramatic days to the brink of oblivion before they can summon the ins(...)

Dublin’s goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and Jack McCaffrey block  a goalbound effort from Mayo’s Andy Moran in  yesterday’s All-Ireland Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

In these situations, it’s hard to know who gets the sympathy and who sighs the relief. Dublin blew a seven-point lead but managed to kill the game (...)

Aidan O’Shea shakes hands with Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton after the All-Ireland semi-final ends all square at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

By the end, Aidan O’Shea had earned the ultimate accolade. Booed and scorned by the Hill, their dudgeon high after the latest collision between himsel(...)

Using Barry Moran  as a defensive sweeper against Donegal to negate the influence of Michael Murphy was a bold statement by Mayo’s joint managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

There is an appropriate symmetry in Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly being the joint-architects of the innovative tactical plan which has been the most ey(...)

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea will pose a huge threat to Dublin’s ambitions at  Croke Park. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

On the morning after Mayo fed Donegal through the wood-chipper in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final, Aidan O’Shea was king of the world. Well, he was(...)

Mayo joint-manager Noel Connelly: “We’ll be focusing on the way Dublin have changed their style of play and gone more defensive in the last year.”  Photo: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho

Noel Connelly is back in the middle of another decade, guiding Mayo along an All-Ireland pathway. Joint-manager with Pat Holmes – the same combinat(...)

Key men: Aidan O’Shea offers Mayo a new attacking dimension while Cian O’Sullivan is Dublin’s designated sweeper. Photograph: Inpho

Watching the images of Galway’s victory in the hurling semi-final brought to mind the similarities between their perennial quest for All-Ireland fulfi(...)