Belfast Telegraph

Analysts unite to talk tactics on where final will be won and lost

Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Tonight, Drumragh Sarsfields GAA club just outside Omagh will be hosting their ever-popular pre All-Ireland final chat night in Sally O'Brien's.

At the same time, there will be another Q&A going on, organised by Club Tyrone at the Garvaghey GAA Complex.

There have been other nights recently in The Moy, Castlederg and Killyclogher. Owen Mulligan is hosting one in his pub in Cookstown.

The bunting is all up and the chat is flowing.

This is a county that like to get into the nuance of the whole thing.

Wherever you go, you can be sure the following subjects are going to be discussed:

Ciaran Kilkenny. What do you do with the man who sets the pace, angle and momentum of the Dublin attack?

For some teams, because Kilkenny operates on the 'safe' side of their defence, i.e. away from goal, they are content to let him have the ball, frequently clocking up over 60 touches on the ball, in the mistaken belief that he is doing no harm out there.

What if, though, you have a dedicated man-marker?

It's not a new concept.

Lee Keegan did it for Mayo in last year's All-Ireland final and it disrupted Kilkenny and Dublin's game.

In last year's semi-final against Tyrone, Kilkenny had 66 possessions. Against Mayo, he had eight. Yes. Eight.

Despite Mayo showing how to do it, teams have by and large let Kilkenny enjoy himself out there, sprinting into oceans of space if possession is remotely threatened.

Tyrone have Padraig Hampsey, who showed while marking Monaghan's Conor McManus in the semi-final he is tailor-made for this task. In that instance, Kilkenny will replicate what he did against Mayo, which was stay out of channels and indirectly enable other players to have a greater influence on the game.

Both players will be out of the game. But that merely means advantage Tyrone.

They will also have to pick and choose when to push up on Stephen Cluxton's kickout. He likes to go into the left corner with his kickouts so that flank has to be shut down.

And if he is forced to go long, then the form Colm Cavanagh is in, he will hope to break even with Brian Fenton.

In the end, a million mad things can happen and a winner emerges.

Crazy things happen in an All-Ireland final.

Belfast Telegraph


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