Mayo can expect a serious test from buoyant Tipperary

Tipp come into this semi-final as Munster champions, unlike in 2016

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea celebrate after beating Galway to win the Connacht SFC final. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea celebrate after beating Galway to win the Connacht SFC final. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

All-Ireland SFC semi-final: Mayo v Tipperary

Throw-in: 3.30pm, Sunday. Venue: Croke Park. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 3pm. On TV: Live on RTÉ2 and Sky Sports Mix. Referee: David Gough (Meath).

This has been simmering away quite nicely from Mayo’s point of view. Like four years ago, the wonder is in the opposition especially now that Tipperary arrive at this stage as Munster champions and not neophytes who tumbled through the qualifier trapdoor into an All-Ireland semi-final.

But maybe it’s worth recalling that, in 2016, Tipp had handed then Connacht champions Galway a firmer beating than Mayo did last month, but different times and different teams – albeit Mayo don’t look as strong as back then, whereas by miracle of 2020 David Power is able to call on a stronger team than he’ll ever pick again unless they reach the final.

Their best hand is in attack where Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan have been stellar, but also well supported by Colman and Conal Kennedy and Brian Fox. However, as a unit they haven’t encountered anything as integrated or as effective a blend of experience and athleticism as Mayo offer.

It will be a far stiffer challenge than Cork provided in the Munster final but, on form, the outsiders pose arguably a more varied attacking threat than Mayo have faced to date.

Centrefield is likely to be very influential as, in Liam Casey and Steven O’Brien, Tipp have serious weaponry whereas Mayo have struggled to improvise a way around ball-winning requirements in the middle even if they work hard.

Aidan O’Shea’s advanced location has been a success and with Cillian O’Connor in good form both as an attacking force and the familiar first line of defence role, there has been scope for the newer arrivals, especially the immensely promising Tommy Conroy.

The decisive issue here is that Mayo have been tempered in a more demanding environment since the resumption in October. Four of their five matches have been against Division One teams whereas none of Tipperary’s opponents have been at that level.

Allowing that Tipp are justifiably buoyant and Mayo sometimes struggle with favouritism, the Connacht champions can keep their distance.

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