Dublin’s hard tempo
Dublin attack hard and fast from the start. Goals play a big role, with Dublin finding the net 13 times in 6 outings to date. Meath know the Leinster champions’ ability to find the net all to well, conceding three majors in a one-sided provincial final. Dessie Farrell’s side is built around a fast game looking to pressure opposing backs early. Long balls down the wing have given opportunities to Cormac Costello, Dublin’s chief attacking option, through the season and proved particularly useful early against Kerry.
Aggressive as this approach is, it requires Dublin to create a bevy of scoring chances to succeed. The speed at which Farrell’s charges operate hurts their accuracy. Kerry sought to target this aspect of the game in the second half of the Semi-Final but sacrificed their own attack in the process. Meath similarly were unable to slow the Dublin onslaught first time out but the Royals have room to improve.
Meath’s efficiency worries
The first All-Ireland Semi-Final was a dreadful game as Meath topped Mayo but show no progress from their loss to Dublin in Croke Park. Passing was raw and the Royals had two long stretches at the start of both halves where they failed to score. A repeat simply can’t be afforded against Dublin and change requires a focus on control. Meath must look to control the pace of the game, slowing play to a tempo that suits them.
In order to succeed the Royals must maintain possession and display more patience in attack. Dublin will look to bully the Royals’ forwards by closing down in bunches. Meath must keep play calm and look to find the best opportunity to score. Rushed chances result in rash finishes. Defensively Meath have an opportunity to frustrate Dublin. Their backs held Mayo to just 4 scoring chances in the last 24 minutes last time out. Starving Dublin will prove challenging but it will be necessary to stay competitive.
Depth could prove telling
The most impressive aspect of Dublin’s strategy is how they are able to maintain a hard pace for the full hour. Much of this comes down to their substantial assets on the bench, providing Farrell with options to take advantage of tiring opponents down the stretch. When Kerry rallied in the second half, Dublin had the fresher bodies to come back at them and end the game as a contest. By relentlessly pressuring opponents, Dublin have been able to go through the campaign to date largely unchallenged. None of their games have been close on the scoreboard, whereas even last year’s team that reached the Final had a couple of hairy moments. Meath must find a way to absorb the pressure in the final quarter hour to avoid being run out the gate.
The pick for this game isn’t difficult. Throughout 2012, Dublin have run over all before them. Dublin’s accuracy isn’t exceptional but they create so many more chances than opponents that it’s a non-factor. The Leinster champions dominated Meath the last time they met in Croke Park. Neither side has shown anything since that game to imply an upset is on the cards. The pressure of trying to end a 28 year famine will of course weigh on this Dublin team’s shoulders but they are too strong for it to make a difference on Sunday. This one won’t be close. Dublin to win.
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