Evolution the solution for new blue revolution
Even in two years Dublin have evolved into a different team under Jim Gavin
Although there have been times when opposing teams have cracked Cluxton’s kick-out codes he always manages to sustain a spell of cleverly directed re-starts, most obviously in the second half on Sunday, despite being the most targeted goalkeeper, from this perspective.
Against Cork Dublin took a long time to pull away and close the match despite creating a number of goal chances and having considerable advantages of speed and scoring opportunities.
“To be critical, you’d look at their conversion rate,” is Counihan’s principal criticism.
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It has been a testament to the work done since the quarter-final that the accuracy of score- taking has improved. Although the outcomes weren’t great, Bernard Brogan’s diligence in making himself available for ball was impressive and he gave Eoin Cadogan a wretched time.
That performance marked a turnaround in his fortunes and in the semi-final against Kerry he kicked four from play against Marc Ó Sé before receiving the RTÉ Man-of-the-Match citation for his display on Sunday.
In a match of tight margins, Brogan’s improvement matched the team’s. He ended with 2-3, 2-2 from play, and only one wide, and his quality finishing obviously had a huge bearing on the result.
Counihan outlines what he saw as the significant improvements in Dublin’s game.
“This year they had more pace and significant experience, as well as strength in depth. Every match subs came on and they all added something to the team. He stuck with his subs, which worked for him.
“It’s a cliché at this stage but football really is a 20-man game now. On Sunday you couldn’t help but notice that the Mayo subs didn’t make the same impact.”
Replacement policy is a familiar issue to Counihan, as in 2010 he frequently kept experienced players on the bench and finished the match with a stronger selection than had started. He agrees with Dublin manager Jim Gavin’s maintaining a consistent selection on the bench despite the occasional pressure to start players who had been making a regular impact as replacements.
“You don’t want to be bringing on young fellas in the heat of battle in an All-Ireland final. You’ve also got to weigh up the impact on individuals. Will the fella that’s normally coming on be as good starting and will the other fella work as well when he comes into the game?
“It can be hard on a player who’s going very well as a sub but can’t get a start. In general though, you’re not really looking at this from the point of an individual but of the team. What’s best for the team?”