Its that time of year again where two counties march on Croke Park to see their home try and capture the Sam Maguire cup. This year sees a return of the 2011 All Ireland champions and reigning Leinster champions Dublin face reigning Connacht champions and last years finalists Mayo. Both teams had very different paths to the final this year.
Dublin began the year in Croke Park after their Division 1 league win over Tyrone against Westmeath. This young exciting Dublin team blew Westmeath off the field like they did next with Kildare and eventually in the final despite a brave effort from Meath. As the matches went on teams began to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the Dublin team which lead them to have to fight for their place this Sunday. After seeing off Cork, Dublin fought a gallant Kerry team until to blow them aside with a 70 - 72nd minute display and run out 7 points winners. Their winning margins against Kerry Cork and Meath did not reflect the shakiness the Dublin team experienced in them games. All that said, they still find themselves in The All Ireland Final on Sunday.
Without any disrespect to any of Mayo's opposition this year, Mayo have had a relatively easy path to the All Ireland Final. This is a young team molded by James Moran in 2011 which seen most of the players appear in an All Ireland Semi Final quiet young and inexperienced. For this reason, means they walked straight out of Connacht hammering Galway on their own turf , Roscommon and then surprise candidates London in the Connacht Final. Then the mouth watering quarter final draw of Donegal , which turned out to be a dour affair with Mayo destroying last years All Ireland champions. Mayo made hard work in the Semi Final against Tyrone with a very shaky first half, but it may have been the challenge the Mayo lads needed running out 6 point winners.
Mayo have a 63 year Sam Maguire bridge to gap and with a young team, regardless of the result they will certainly be there next year. Dublin have a 2 year gap to bridge, but have all the pressures of being the capital city. Dublin have produced some menacing displays this year of speed and movement. Jim Gavins ability to change tactics within matches is proving to be critical, but I feel the result of this game depends on Cluxtons kicking and the backlines temperment which showed cracks when challenged by Kerry. Cillian O'Connor who dislocated his shoulder in the game against Tyrone has battled hard for fitness and is cleared to start against Dublin.The battle in the middle of the field will be crucial for Mayo with both O'Sheas needing to keep their cool at bay.
All in all, this game is a mouth watering tie for all the neutrals which will see tempers flared. Theres only got to be one winner and it is certainly assured to be a fantastic final.
Mayo Team to face Dublin : R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, K Higgins, A Dillon; C O’Connor, A Freeman, A Moran (Capt).
Dublin : S Cluxton, P McMahon, R O’Carroll, J Cooper, J McCarthy, G Brennan, J McCaffrey, MD Macauley, C O’Sullivan, P Flynn, C Kilkenny, D Connolly, P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.