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"Dublin are the better team individually, but Mayo can still do it," Mickey Conroy's take on the All-Ireland final

Former Mayo star breaks down every line and sees where the advantage lies in the race for Sam Maguire

Mickey Conroy soldiered for over a decade trying to get his hands on Sam Maguire and the former Mayo attacker breaks down Sunday's eagerly-anticipated final between his native county and the three-in-a-row seeking Dubs.

 

GOALKEEPER

The two best goalkeepers in the country and no one is going to argue that Stephen Cluxton is going to go down as probably the best goalkeeper of all time. Nine out of ten of his kick-outs are reaching the intended destination this year and that's phenomenal.

Cluxton is probably the best kick passer in the game, he's so quick from the tee, it's pinpoint. David Clarke is having a fantastic year as well and how his kick-outs go will decide a lot of how this final is played out. He's the best shot stopper in the game but there's still a marginal preference for Cluxton.

Advantage: Slight advantage to Dublin

 

FULL-BACK LINE

With Cian O'Sullivan back sweeping Dublin give very little away at the back and in Philly McMahon and Mick Fitzsimons (who is probably odds on to win an All-Star), they have two outstanding corner-backs.

They look rock solid but you'd have to be excited about that line with Mayo as well. Keith Higgins is playing the football of his life, Vaughan and Harrison are flying it too and I think they're evenly matched in that department.

Advantage: Honours even

 

HALF-BACK LINE

It's actually laughable how much talent is in the two half-back lines. Lee Keegan would get into any team in Ireland and Colm Boyle is playing super stuff while Chris Barrett goes about his business quietly but has had a huge effect on what they've done this year. Barrett is more defensive-minded than attack-minded which gives the two wing backs a chance to bomb forward more because he'll mind the house.

Having Jack McCaffrey back is some boost for Dublin allowing James McCarthy to go to midfield and McCaffrey has shown no ill effects of his year away. Jonny Cooper has been out the field a bit more and is a fine player but I'd take 'Boyler' ahead of him all day and Mayo just edge this outstanding line.

This division shows how Mayo and Dublin are the cream of the crop, the best of the best. Some other counties have one or two lads that would make the best team in the county but Sunday's finalists are peppered with them.

Advantage: Mayo

 

MIDFIELD

Brian Fenton is the best in the business for me and James McCarthy isn't half bad either. Tom Parsons is having some year and Seamus O'Shea had a great game in the replay against Kerry but consistently, the two Dublin lads shade it there.

Advantage: Dublin

 

HALF-FORWARD LINE

I hear Paul Flynn is absolutely flying it and I expect him to start, Niall Scully is a good player too but Flynn would have the ex

15 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (982)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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"You knew you were working and dealing with a different breed, they wanted it more," Paul Clarke looks back on his O'Byrne Cup reign with the Dubs

Former Dublin star outlines what sets Jim Gavin apart

 

It's amazing what you can learn about someone from their Twitter handle – be it a nickname, their age or something that means a lot to them – and when you search for former Dublin star Paul Clarke, the year 1995 immediately comes to the fore.

That was the year Dublin ended a 12-year wait, deemed as a famine in the capital, for Sam Maguire and for Clarke it was a time when everything came together for him after some frustrating years in sky blue.

Scoring from play in every championship game that year, the Whitehall Colmcille forward, then 29, was playing the football of his career as the Dubs denied Tyrone their first All-Ireland crown, and a five in a row for Ulster counties.

It's funny what sticks out with some people from their playing days and when looking back at the '95 final it's not Charlie Redmond's sending off that he recalls, or Peter Canavan hitting 11 points, all but one of the Red Hand tally that day.

 

Redmond's red mist

Instead it was the immediate shift in Dublin's mentality when Redmond was given his marching orders and the responsibility which then lay in his hands with free-taking duties, a couple of which he spurned, before delivering the final blow to Tyrone's coffin in their 1-10 to 0-12 win.

"There was a bit of a mix-up over Charlie but if you look at the coverage straight away when he is sent off and goes off, a number of us in that forward line started pulling strings and pointing what had to be done," Clarke tells gaelicplayers.com

"Jason Sherlock, a young player like him, was very much included in that and we knew we had to work harder if we wanted to get over the line. Charlie was sent off and all of a sudden I was thrown in as free taker.

 

"A lot of people forget that I missed a few difficult frees under the Hogan Stand but I haven't, that could have been the winning of the game for us and I could've made it a lot easier. Thankfully, the head didn't drop though.

"I could've dropped it but instead I got into a good position and kicked the winning score, a really good score, from a position that I was comfortable in and that I'd practiced a lot in training. It sailed over and that was the final score of our championship."

After the euphoria of an All-Ireland win and receiving his first and only All-Star, Clarke was keen to push on the following year but instead he watched on from Hill 16 the following year alongside a handful of other All-Ireland winners.

Clarke didn't feature in the plans of new boss Mickey Whelan and when subsequent All-Ireland kingpins Meath put them to the sword in the Leinster final he went from being "on top of the world to crashing back down to earth".

 

11 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (968)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
Categories: Year 2015Year 2016

EXCLUSIVE: "I'd be absolutely delighted for them but a slight bit jealous too I'm sure,” former Galway star David Collins on his emotions if Galway claim All-Ireland SHC title

 

 

WALKING away from the game you love is never easy and David Collins doesn't hide his struggles as Galway bid to break their 29-year wait for an All-Ireland SHC title without him against Waterford on Sunday.

 

For 13 years he soldiered with the Tribesmen as they flirted with Liam MacCarthy success but when you're time is up, there's no turning back and the former senior skipper has no regrets about his time in maroon and white.

 

It was his "lifelong dream" to climb the Hogan Stand steps on the first Sunday in September but with that ambition extinguished, the 33-year-old will put his full weight behind supporting the current crop, many of which he stays in regular contact with.

 

It's just over a year since his last Galway appearance, a late cameo as they fell narrowly to eventual champions Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final, and it's a strange position to be an outsider looking in as the county stands on the cusp of just their fifth All-Ireland crown.

 

"I do miss it," Collins says candidly. "I miss the intensity, I miss the competitiveness, the structure that it gives you. You lose a lot of discipline in terms of where you're going, what you're doing. When you're involved, you're so engrossed in hurling and that's one of the biggest issues at the moment that I see. 

 

"Everything revolves around it, you forget about your life, your family, your career and when you leave like I did you can be left with a hole or a void to fill, luckily I have the club and my job, which I lined up properly over the past two years because I knew my time was coming to an end.

 

"That's so important for players to realise that once it finishes, and it could finish at any time, it's crucial to have that there. It's not an easy transition period but you look back with fond memories and that's the one thing I'll always have."

 

 

The Liam Mellows clubman, who is

01 September 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (762)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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Ken McGrath breaks down the Galway and Waterford sides and gives his expert verdict on the All-Ireland SHC final

GOALKEEPER:

They are two very good keepers and Stephen O'Keeffe has been brilliant since coming on the scene. He stopped three bullets against Cork the first day and is probably underestimated but he never puts a foot wrong and is so cool under pressure.

Galway's Colm Callanan is an experienced keeper. He's brave and made up for an earlier mistake when he stopped Seamus Callanan at point-blank range in the semi-final and I see very little between this pair.

Advantage: No advantage

 

DEFENCE:

Darragh Fives was brilliant as sweeper the last day but Tadhg de Búrca will come back into the Waterford team with Darragh most likely picking up Joe Canning. Darragh is a serious player and has the potential to be as good as any player in the country if he can stay injury free.

Waterford's defence is hard to break down and they never waste a ball when they are playing it out from the back as they utilise the midfield a lot with short ball. They are trying the system the last three years and they now have it down to a tee.

Noel Connors is playing superb stuff and will probably be designated to pick up Conor Whelan but Conor Gleeson is a massive loss. He has done a marvellous job on every top forward in the country so far this year and it's hard not to feel sorry for him.

Gearóid McInerney is having a great season at centre-back for Galway holding the defence together with his ability in the air but Waterford might look to challenge his mobility by putting Austin Gleeson in directly on him centre-forward to move him around. 

Daithí Burke has been a revelation at full-back but with Aidan Harte playing sweeper, I'm not sure if Burke will stay at the edge of the square. Daithí might go marking and possibly pick up Pauric Mahony because Micheál Donoghue will be well aware that he cannot be left loose. 

While Galway have been playing with a sweeper a couple of times in this year's championship, Waterford are the best teammin the country at playing with seven defenders and playing that system so they have a small advantage in defence.

Advantage: Waterford

 

 

MIDFIELD:

Kevin Moran started a bit slow this year but he has gradually got his bearings right and delivered two huge performances in the last two games while Jamie Barron is the best midfielder in the country at the moment.

He took the Cork game by the scruff of the neck when it was still in the melting pot while he turned the tide against Kilkenny and set Waterford on to a famous win o

31 August 2017/Author: Media GPA/Number of views (981)/Comments (0)/ Article rating: 5.0
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