Mayo and Tipperary will travel to Croke Park on Sunday to try and book an All-Ireland Final spot against either Dublin or Kerry. Mayo are heavy favourites coming into the game but they would be warned after seen Tipperary defeat Galway in the quarter final.
I expect Mayo to be concentrated and not underestimate Tipperary and they would have took notes on how Liam Kearns sets up his team. Galway handed Tipperary the initiative by allowing Tipperary to win their own kick outs uncontested, Mayo will not let this happen. Mayo will push up on the Tipperary kick out and put pressure on Tipperary goalkeeper Evan Comerford to kick the ball long, which will suit the tall Mayo midfield. Mayo will have the physical presence in midfield as well with Breaffy’s Seamus O’Shea and Aidan O’Shea (should he start here), while Tom Parson is also very powerful substitute to bring off the bench.
Tipperary got great joy from kicking long balls into the full forward line to Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney, however expect Stephen Rochford and his management to have a tactic in place to stop this from happening. I personally believe if they force Tipperary to kick long they will be half way there to win, as Mayo will dominate midfield. Kevin McLoughlin will again play the sweeper role and Tipperary will have to be weary of this when trying to pick out Sweeney and Quinlivan in the full forward line. Should Mayo pull of these tactical moves then the game will become a lot tougher for Tipperary, but in saying that I wouldn’t write the Premier off completely. They have proven they can handle tactical games and this was shown in their excellent qualifier win over Derry at Breffni Park.
In modern day football the substitutes pay a key role in deciding the outcomes of games, I feel Mayo have the advantage here as well as experience. They have a greater strength in depth than a Tipperary side that haven’t used many substitutes in this year’s championship. Mayo have more players in reserve than their opponents, and the combination of fresh legs and experience coming off the bench in the second half could be the difference at full time.
Tipperary will go at the game nothing to lose in some way. The players of the Premier have probably never played in a game which such high stakes and they thrive on this or bottle it. Tipperary gave a solid defensive play against Galway, but the threat will be even greater on Sunday. It will be very hard for Tipperary to keep the O’Connor’s quite as well as Aidan O’Shea in the forwards.
In terms of a prediction, the nod would have to go with Mayo, they are on a mission this year and want to claim Sam Maguire, but that’s for another day should they progress. I believe the Mayo forwards will have too much for the Tipperary defence, while Cillian O’Connor should have a major influence on the game. Mayo to win by 6 or 7 points.
Verdict: Mayo 6-7 points, Cillian O’Connor Man of the Match, 6/1.
Mayo ( SF v Tipperary) David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Barry Moran, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Patrick Durcan; Seamus O’Shea, Donal Vaughan; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; Jason Doherty, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor.
Tipperary (SFC v Mayo): Evan Comerford; Colm O’Shaughnessy, Alan Campbell, Ciarán McDonald; Bill Maher, Robbie Kiely, Jimmy Feehan; Peter Acheson, George Hannigan; Josh Keane, Michael Quinlivan, Brian Fox; Kevin O’Halloran, Conor Sweeney, Philip Austin.