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All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final – Dublin v Mayo – Croke Park – 6. 00 pm – RTE
Dublin will go head to head with Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin on the 14th of August at 6.00 pm in the first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final live on RTÉ.
Both teams are coming into this game, winning their provincial titles.
Mayo came back from a lacklustre first half against Galway in the Connacht final to win another Connacht title with a scoreline of 2-14 (20) to 2-08 (14).
Dublin on the other hand lifted their 11th consecutive Leinster title after defeating Kildare 0-20 (20) to 1-09 (12) in Croke Park.
Now, The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (Dublin v Mayo) will be the first semi-final of the 2021 Championship campaign.
Looking at both team’s performances this campaign, Mayo has looked the better side overall.
Throughout their league campaign, Mayo has been on tip-top form, after their shock relegation. They have bounced back to Division 1 in style.
Before hammering Sligo and Leitrim on their way to facing Galway.
During the first half of their game against Galway, Mayo looked void of ideas for much of the opening 30 minutes.
As soon as the second half began, they came out with a ruthless running game, tough tackling, with Padraig O’Hora and Aidan O’Shea making three exceptional turnovers.
The game itself showed Mayo at their best and Mayo at their worst, looking more and more like a second-half team. James Horan’s side still needs work.
However, a monumental change of events occurred after the break. Mayo came out and blitzed Galway, nullifying their attack, keeping them scoreless until the 61st minute from a free.
Outscoring their rivals 1-06 to 0-00 up until that moment.
Their forward line looked strong, with Ryan O’Donoghue a standout with his movement and finishing, scoring 1-03 and had a goal disallowed.
Mayo has not defeated Dublin since 2012, defeating them in the All-Ireland semi-final where they went on to lose to Donegal.
Since then, they have faced Dublin in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Losing four All-Ireland finals and two semi-finals, two of which have gone to replays.
All games have been very close affairs, with the 2016 and 2017 finals saw Mayo come close to ending their seven-decade wait for an All-Ireland.
Their last meeting was in the All-Ireland final in 2020 back in December, where they were outclassed in the much better Dublin side at the time.
James Horan’s men come into this game hoping to break their Dublin hoodoo.
So far this season, Dublin have looked very un-Dublin like. Throughout Leinster, they have narrowly escaped defeat.
While they bossed their game against Wexford, they were kept goalless, only winning by 8 points (the lowest scoring margin in a Dublin game in Leinster in years).
Against rivals Meath, they scuppered a wide lead in the Leinster semi-final.
The Dubs were cruising along in the first half, leading 2-11 (17) to 0-06 (6).
However, Meath came back with a goal, narrowing the gap to three points. The game ended up 2-15 (21) to 1-13 (16).
In the Leinster final, Dublin looked hot and cold against Kildare. The opening quarter was back and forth, with the Lilywhites in contention throughout the first half.
However, the Dubs experience and fitness came got them over the line.
Kildare faded, even a late goal by man on the match Daniel Flynn did little to impact Dublin.
Dessie Farrell’s side has been hit massively with injuries and retirements the past few seasons.
Many of Dublin’s influential players have left the panel this season, Cian O’Sullivan, Eric Lowndes, Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews and possibly Stephen Cluxton, which has led to a mass exodus of their panel.
Other players such as Ciaran Kilkenny, Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, Jonny Cooper and Dean Rock are coming towards the twilight of their glittering careers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Like many times before in Croke Park, Mayo was blitzed with two goals, after conceding from Shane Walsh and Damien Comer in the Connacht Final.
This is important because, against Dublin, they have lost all their big games against them down to leaking needless goals.
2015, Mayo were four points up, in the trajectory for victory and concede 3 goals in the space of 15 minutes.
2016, a drop of the ball from goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly saw a penalty gifted to Dublin, the goal being the difference with Dublin coming out one-point victors.
2017 saw Con O’Callaghan run straight through the Mayo defence in the opening minute to slot home, which, yet again, saw Mayo lose by a point.
Last year’s All-Ireland final saw Dean Rock score the fastest goal in All-Ireland final history at 13 seconds which killed the game off before it even began.
Much has been made of Dublin’s bench as of late, with former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice questioning if Dublin’s bench is capable enough.
What won Dublin so many All-Irelands in the past 10 years is the level of quality coming off the bench, the likes of the Brogan brothers and Cormac Costello saw the Dubs outrun many teams in the latter stages of finals.
Trying to stay unbiased as possible, I believe Mayo will finally overcome its nemesis that is the Dublin juggernaut.
Mayo’s team selection will be important, if James Horan deploys Aidan O’Shea in midfield, Brian Fenton and James McCarthy will run him into the ground.
O’Shea is a great midfielder, but his qualities lie in the Full-Forward line, where he is a nuisance in the high-ball and bringing runners into the game is one of his best qualities.
If the Mayo captain starts upfront, I would fancy his chances against Jonny Cooper and co.
Overall, Dublin has the stronger team, but have not looked like their usual selves this season.
From their past games, Mayo has been the only team capable of truly matching the Dubs strength for strength.
It can go either way and Dublin are the favourites. But, I have Mayo ending Dublin’s run.
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (Dublin v Mayo) will be live on RTÉ.
Prediction: Mayo by 3 points
Starting Teams – TBC