Dublin Have The Tools To Undo Donegal’s System
Dublin v Donegal
Many cried and roared about the disgraceful first instalment of Jimmy Mc’s beastly approach to taking on the beautiful Dubs in 2011…
…and now we can’t wait for the sequel. Can Donegal’s system disrupt Dublin’s fluency? Can beast beat the beauty? Is the Donegal of 2014 as well-tuned as that of 2011 and 2012? How much better than 2011 are Dublin? Tune in this Sunday at 3.30 to find out.
Dublin’s form couldn’t be better. They are absolutely blitzing sides all year. Every lad that knows not to consider a response when asked ‘Does me arse look big in this’ can peddle the line that even if teams can stay with the Dubs for 50 minutes, then the cavalry come off the bench and kill off the game. Some are suggesting that Dublin, who have cleared any handicap spread comfortably, haven’t been tested yet, but at times they have looked held but have just bolted away. In a number of games they’ve had to shake themselves and no-one could foresee the outcome of the Monaghan game after 20 minutes with the sides tied at three apiece.
Donegal have shown remarkable determination in returning to the top in Ulster. Last year’s hang-over was understandable but they’re back to their hard-running, hungry selves. Michael Murphy only turned 25 this month but the man-mountain is Mr. Reliable on the delivery front. When Armagh threatened to upset the odds it was Murphy that steadied the ship and drove Donegal home. They aren’t winning by much. They beat both Derry and Monaghan by three points, both games they were comfortable in and should have won by more, and they had a point to spare over Armagh.
Dublin have so many potential match winners that it’s difficult to know where to start or finish on the key match-ups. If Bernard Brogan is held then Connolly could be the main man. If he’s held what about Kevin McManamon and Alan Brogan. It’s really the meeting of two philosophies that holds the key so…how will Donegal’s system work against perhaps the most fluent and powerful team Gaelic football has seen?
That 0-08 to 0-06 game in 2011 was pilloried by many. Personally, I was fascinated by the audacity of Donegal to ‘do what it takes’, though inevitably that day they didn’t see it out. Some of the media coverage after Donegal’s exit last year was disrespectful to Donegal and McGuinness in Particular. In my view his transformation of Donegal from a party boy culture to serious contenders is one of the great managerial coups.
Donegal deserve great credit for recovering from last year’s malaise to regain the Anglo-Celt. However, for me, while being much improved on last year, the 2014 DL reg isn’t as powerful as the 2011 or 2012 version.
The form of Colm McFadden is worrying for the O’Donnell boys. He’s not firing like he was in 2012 and that is placing to heavy a burden on Murphy who is also required to shore up the midfield. On the positive side, while Odhran MacNiallais may lack power and fielding ability, he has proved a scoring threat from the middle; Ryan McHugh has filled his brother’s role well; and Paddy McBrearty is chomping. There are some fascinating potential match-ups between O’Gara and McGee, and Neil McGee on MDM to name but two.
Dublin’s 2014 model suggests it has improved on last year. The only side, for me, that have put 20 minutes together that suggest they could really trouble the dubs is Mayo. Frustrating Dublin is possible for 20 minutes and maybe even 40, but eventually the Dubs will start scoring and, from what we’ve seen thus far, Donegal won’t score enough to match that. 1-11 against Derry, 0-15 against Monaghan, and 1-12 against Armagh are unlikely scores to trouble the All-Ireland champions who have averaged 28.75 points per game. The effort needed, whatever the system, to cut that in half would leave Donegal shook for attacking energy.
Dublin are un-backable at 1/9, and while Donegal at 13/2 is big, it’s hard to see.
With Dublin likely to score in excess of twenty points and their concession rate dropping from 16 to 15 to 13 and then to 11 against Monaghan, Donegal’s contribution to the scoreboard, especially with energies spent on shackling the Dubs, could be meagre.
Take the 10/11 about Donegal hitting under 14.5.
As an outside bet, Dublin to win by 11-12 points at 6/1 is worth a fiver.
Donegal to score under 14.5 @ 10/11
Dublin to win by 11-12 points at 6/1