Dublin’s variety off the bench should prove the difference despite Mayo’s upper hand at midfield
With neither side a stranger to the occasion, Jim Gavin’s side have more scoring power
There is pressure on every player ahead of the All-Ireland final but the likes of Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley and Aidan O’Shea of Mayo will feel it even more, having played so well this year. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
In a game of tight margins, the X-factor of those coming off Dublin’s bench such as Eoghan O’Gara and Kevin McManamon could prove decisive. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Everybody’s on the hunt for tickets. We say each September that this is the worst year anyone can remember for tickets. And it is. Last year you had two counties who hadn’t won the All-Ireland in decades, this year you have one of them coming back and then the Dubs on top of it. So nobody has tickets to throw around them.
Mostly, the players will be removed from all that. But you can’t escape it completely. Everybody has that one friend or family member who’ll get onto you in desperation. They know they shouldn’t but this is just too big a day to miss.
P Sé was the worst of them. No final week would be complete without him getting onto you and going, “I’m killed for tickets here, you won’t leave me down will you?”
He rang Tomás one year and said, “Tomás, it’s your godfather here. I’m badly in need of two tickets.” Tomás was ready for him though. “That’s right Páidí,” he said. “You are my godfather. Now when’s my birthday?” But Páidí wouldn’t be slowed down by that kind of speedbump. “Ah Tomás,” he said. “Don’t be petty now. We all know when your birthday is. We don’t need to be spelling it out.” Páidí got his two tickets.
He always did. There was one year he plagued me for a couple of tickets and he cried away about how there wasn’t a ticket to be had in the country. I heard afterwards that on the morning of the game he had 118 of them.
Mostly though, players will be left alone this week. They would have had their final A versus B game last weekend and management would have ironed out the gameplan. From here until Sunday, each player has to be concerned only with that gameplan and their part of it. They’ll think about it in quiet moments, it’ll pop into their head when they’re in the car.
There’s pressure on every player this week but it stands to reason that there’s that little bit more pressure on the players who have been outstanding all year. The likes of Aidan O’Shea and Michael Darragh Macauley will be feeling it slightly more than the rest of them. They’ve dug in all summer and come up with the big performances and the danger now is that they will feel that everybody’s turning to them to do it again.
The key for these guys this week is to concentrate on just being another player in the squad. You make it your job for the week just do go out and do the basics. If you have yourself all revved up to be man of the match or player of the year, there’s no better game than an All-Ireland final to be gone in a flash before you know it. You’ve got want to perform for all the right reasons. Do that, and you’ll give yourself a better chance of ending up a match-winner anyway.
This is a week for checking off in your head the things you are going to do in the game. You work through the scenarios. What happens if we take an early lead? Am I going to drop back a bit and protect my defence or am I going to drive on and try to kill the game off? What happens if we concede an early goal? Am I going to be the one to put my hand in the air and call for the next kick-out? You don’t decide that on the pitch. You decide it early in the week.