Dublin and Mayo meet in Sunday’s All-Ireland final with the men from the west looking to end a hoodoo that now stands at 65 years.
The legend goes that the victorious Mayo All-Ireland side of 1951 (their last victory) ‘failed’ to respect a funeral in Foxford while celebrating as they passed through on their way home.
Angered by the boisterous team, a local priest placed a curse on the county that they would not win Sam Maguire ever again or a least while the members if that panel are still alive.
Seven agonising All-Ireland’s have come and gone since with no joy coming Mayo’s way, but it won’t be the curse’s fault on Sunday if they lose. Stats never lie, Dublin are just streets ahead of any other team in the country.
Despite being one of the best panels in the country this decade, the one honour that has alluded Dublin is back-to-back All-Ireland titles.
Surprisingly, the feat has only been managed once this century – by Kerry (of course) in 2006 and 2007 – and you have to go all the way to Cork in 1989/90 to find the time it was achieved before that. As underdogs Stephen Rochford’s men will take heart from that, but unfortunately for them Jim Gavin makes sure that defeat is a very rare feeling for his charges.
Incredibly, you have to go all the way back to March 1, 2015, a league meeting with Kerry to find the last time Dublin were beaten.
Gavin also boasts a fantastic record in Championship since he took over in 2013 of 21 wins, one draw and just a single defeat to Donegal in 2014.
This will be the second time the counties contest a final since 2013 – which the Boys in Blue won by a single point.
People have been predicting, with Dublin as heavy favourites, that’s Sunday’s final might be a blow out. However, looking back at recent history that statement just doesn’t add up.
In fact, of the last 28 football finals only four have been won by more than four points – Kerry by 10 in 2007, Kerry by 13 in 2006, Kerry again in 2004 by eight and finally Galway with nine points to spare in 2001 – so that stats back a tight final, even two of those four blow outs were inflicted on Mayo.
With that being said, we believe the value play for the final could be Dublin to claim the cup by a margin of 4-6 points at .
To be victorious the Westerners will need to have a red letter day in attack and maintain their defensive work to date.
When you take the average scoring rates into account, Mayo have managed exactly 19 points per game, but that rate plummets to around 12.5 points when they play a team perceived to being of similar quality to them. The defeat to Galway and the narrow win over Tyrone being perfect examples of this.
Defensively they have been impressive, only conceding 13.71 points a game. Although their opponents rate is quite similar.
Dublin’s average is a cracking 22.6 points scored a game and don’t forget they raised 22 white flags against Kerry last time out. So they are capable of scoring that total even against their peers.
Taking those averages into account and if nerves don’t kick in on Sunday, you’d fancy the counties to hit over the 37.5 points required to beat the odds.
Without a doubt, one of our most popular markets on All-Ireland final day is the RTÉ Man of the Match.
All the favourites are there: Diarmuid Connolly , Ciaran Kilkenny at , Aidan O’Shea is and Cillian O’Connor – but there is good value to be found elsewhere in the betting.
Dublin’s Philly McMahon has never been shy about bending the rules and should Aidan O’Shea drift into the inside forward line, a little dark arts and some added traditional tight marking could see him called out at the team hotel on the Sunday Game at .
A poor semi-final showing will have stung the usually excellent Paul Flynn, so often the go-to guy for the Boys in Blue and giving the fact he’ll be a seeking some kind of personal redemption, might just be a nifty punt.
If Mayo were to pull off the shock, Seamus O’Shea will need to continue is excellence in midfield.
Pushing up on Stephen Cluxton’s kick outs is essential to damage Dublin – as Kerry proved – and with Seamus winning a whopping 19 contested kick outs clean this year, seems a huge price for him to receive the honour.
Unfortunately for Mayo they could bring holy water, witchdoctors and all the lucky rabbits’ feet in the west. You still can’t see them raiding the capital on Sunday.
A win for the Boys in Blue will send a shiver down the collective spines of the rest of the country because it looks like Dublin’s dynasty has just begun.