GETTING TO GRIPS Mayo’s Tommy Conroy takes on Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons during Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Final at Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile
We kept an eye on five Mayo players who were starting their first All-Ireland senior final
THE 20 year-old did his hopes of winning the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award no harm at all and he now also looks set for an All Star at corner-back too.
The fact he was tasked with marking Con O’Callaghan shows the level of trust James Horan and his management team have in him.
And while O’Callaghan did score 1-1, and was RTÉ’s man of the match, Mullin left his mark.
He had the highest total of Mayo possessions in the first half (15) and the third highest by the end of the game (22).
Inside a minute the Kilmaine man raced up to score Mayo’s first point of the game and he won two of Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs in the next three minutes which resulted in Mayo scoring two more points.
He also won a third kick-out just after the first half water break and was constantly using his pace to gain Mayo yardage from the back.
He tackled well on the backfoot at times as well, winning a turnover in the 45th minute which ended with a Cillian O’Connor point.
Was probably turned too easily by Con O’Callaghan for Dublin’s second goal, but considering how exposed Mayo were at times in defence, the NUI Galway student was outstanding.
THE 21 year-old had been one of Mayo’s most promising young stars in the lead-up to the final, so we were wondering how his direct and powerful running could hurt Dublin.
However, McLaughlin never really got the pitch of the game or to the level he had shown in his last four outings, and he had his hands full with Niall Scully, who scored a point and assisted O’Callaghan’s goal.
The wing-back had one shot blocked down in the first half, was a bit loose in his tackling, and never really found himself in a position where he had possession and an opportunity to go on a gallop.
He made one hard penetrating run in the 56th minute and, for a brief moment, looked like a goal might be on the cards as the two chasing Dublin defenders were struggling to catch him, but he fumbled his attempted hop and Dublin broke free.
Overall thought, it was a real stand-out, breakthrough campaign for the wing back.
THE rangy midfielder seemed to be in a rotating role — with Diarmuid O’Connor — to mark Brian Fenton in the first half and it was a tactic that worked pretty well.
The Breaffy man had 19 first-half possessions in comparison with Brian Fenton’s 13 and Mayo dominated the kick-outs, winning five out of ten of Dublin’s and 12 out of 13 of Mayo’s.
Ruane had one shot that dropped short in the first half, but his hard running was making a lot of hard yards for Mayo and he was linking really with Ryan O’Donoghue at centre-forward.
Struggled to get to grips with the aerial battles in the second half as Fenton came into his own and Dublin won all but one of their restarts. While Fenton had 35 possessions racked up by the final whistle, it was an honest and hard-working display from Ruane.
THE former Mayo Under-20 captain was excellent in just his fifth championship appearance, particularly in the first half.
O’Donoghue was constantly probing for gaps and his pace, power and quick feet caused plenty of trouble for Dublin and he amassed the second highest total of possessions with 14 in the opening 35 minutes.
He also hit two excellent points from play, while he also won two frees which Cillian O’Connor scored from. O’Donoghue was also the man who assisted O’Connor for his first score from play.
He had one shot that dropped short in the first half, was dispossessed twice early on, and his marker, John Small, also got up for a point. But, to be fair, O’Donoghue was marking elsewhere at the time.
His influence dwindled a bit in the third quarter and the 22 year-old was eventually replaced by Darren Coen in the 58th minute.
But, overall, it was impressive stuff from the University of Limerick student.
IT was a big day for the 21 year-old from Cong who was so impressive over the course of this year’s championship.
But being marked by the speedy Eoin Murchan was never going to be an easy task and the Dublin flyer did force The Neale forward on to the backfoot quite a lot.
Conroy struggled to get his hands on much ball early on and it appeared to effect his confidence to attack, especially when he did get possession.
He had one shot at goal that dropped short in the first half and was called ashore to be replaced James Carr in the 49th minute.
But he has developed into an inter-county inside forward with a lot of potential and will have learned a lot from his first final on his fifth championship appearance.
Much better days lie ahead for the talented forward.