Depth won out over accuracy in Tullamore as Dublin effectively choked out Roscommon’s resistance down the stretch. Emmet Ryan explains how even when trailing, Dublin played the game that would eventually secure victory in the 2012 All Ireland Final.
Roscommon counter well early
Defensively Roscommon handled Dublin’s overloading on high balls well in the early going. With Dublin sitting deep in defence, Jim Gavin’s charges option to go route-one enabled the Rossies to close down forwards quickly. It was a nervy opening for both sides but Roscommon settled faster in attack.
Colin Compton’s score on 9 minutes was indicative of Roscommon’s strategy as they looked to develop play quickly on the counter. Compton, along with Donie Smith, and Cian Connolly, were the unquestioned focus of the Roscommon attack. The objective throughout the first half was to get one of these men in position to score, with the rest of the attackers largely assigned to developing chances. Nowhere was this more obvious than on 19 minutes when Niall Daly did some solid work in build up play to be in position to score but off-loaded to Smith who duly slotted over.
Dublin’s turnover success
For all their failings in the passing game early, Dublin’s forwards proved effective at disrupting Roscommon’s backs when they were in possession. As the half wore on the focus on intercepting short passes increased and it soon gave Dublin a territorial advantage. Ciaran Kilkenny’s point on 24 minutes came directly from a turnover but the wider effect was in Dublin’s ability to get more bodies forward.
As Roscommon struggled to get the ball out of their half, Dublin worked their half backs and midfielders more into the attacking game. Jack McCaffrey started becoming more of a factor going forward. He had three long passes that turned into quality scoring chances between 20 and 26 minutes, albeit with only 0-1 to show from it.
Dublin’s obsession with hunting down a major finally paid off in the second minute of first half injury time and yet again, it was a half back who started the move. Ciaran Kilkenny fielded a high ball from John Kelly knocking it down into the path of Paul Hudson who took possession and fired home from short range.
Build-up key for Roscommon
Two points down at the break, Roscommon came out attacking well with the front three once again to the fore. Distance scoring was at the heart of this comeback as the Rossies had trouble breaking down the Dublin defence. Donal Keane’s score on 46 minutes, from inside the semi-circle was the nearest to goal of any of Roscommon’s second half scores.
Instead build-up play to create chances in space out from goal were relied on. and this initially proved fruitful. A Smith point on 32 minutes got the ball rolling but it was two scores in 60 seconds that gave Roscommon the upper hand. First Smith converted a free from the 45 and then Compton won the subsequent kick-out to send Connolly into space and he subsequently scored.
Despite their accuracy, chances were not coming easy for the Rossies. Kevin O’Brien was at the heart of Dublin’s defensive muscle. Throughout this period of Roscommon dominance, the Leinster champions did enough to not all into an unmanageable hole. In all the Connacht champions converted 11 of 15 opportunities in this game. Tremendous accuracy but simply not enough quantity to cope with Dublin’s second half surge.
The Four Horsemen of Suffocation
Roscommon’s 15th and last scoring chance came at a stage where Dublin had converted just 7 of 16 scoring opportunities. By the time they drew level the returns had only improved to 9 of 20 but Dublin’s final flurry would see them convert their final 5 chances to score, leaving much more palatable 14 of 25 tally. The upturn unsurprisingly came when Gavin rang the changes.
Despite limited success on the scoreboard, Dublin’s forwards had pushed a hard tempo against the Roscommon defence all day with their focus on shutting down the short passing game. In the second half they were able to unleash fresh blood to push the pace again. Harry Dawson, Gerry Seaver, Paul Maguire, and Patrick O’Higgins were all introduced for Dublin before Roscommon made a single switch. O’Higgins was the only one introduced due to injury with the other three purely tactical switches to aid the attack.
Their introduction had the desired effect as they gelled well with Kilkenny and Hudson to put Dublin back on top. Having dominated the first 15 minutes of the half, Roscommon found it increasingly difficult to get past midfield. Seaver and Dawson combined to nearly add a second major on 53 minutes, before both they each scored points on 54 and 56 minutes respectively. Kilkenny would add two more, including another built by McCaffrey, to push Dublin into a four point lead before Paul Mannion added the final nail in the coffin.
With time almost up Kelly took possession in defence after a Roscommon high ball broke his way. He immediately offloaded to Michael Concar who advanced inside the Roscommon half where he passed to Dawson but continued to press forward. Dawson used Concar for a one-two before delivering the final pass to Mannion on the 13 to fire past Lowe.
The second goal put a gloss on the final scoreline but better reflected Dublin’s success in creating scoring chances. For all of Roscommon’s efficiency in attack, they were overly reliant on counter-punching and lacked the penetration necessary to keep Dublin’s defence on the back-foot.
Dublin’s first half approach lacked refinement going forward but their industry in hunting for turnovers brought them into the contest. That gave Dublin the platform to use their added depth to tire out Roscommon. While the subs used count would finish 5-3 in Dublin’s favour, it was those 4 initial switches before Roscommon made an adjustment that swung momentum down the stretch.
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Programming note: There won’t be a Tactics not Passion column next week but we hope to get a provisional schedule of the games being covered for the early part of the Championship up as soon as possible. The fundamental plan will be to do one preview and two reviews per week, that will go up and down but hopefully not too much. Thank you for your continued support of Action81.com.