I just think people saying Mayo haven’t been, at their best between 2012 and 2017 a seriously talented team are simply undermining what Dublin have achieved.
They were clearly not at the races last year, for a variety of reasons, including injuries to key players, lack of strength in depth, and I would say likely decline in performance after losing the 2017 final, a game where they played as well as they ever have done, perhaps that was a sort of breaking point for them, I think the footage of the ‘wake’ in the pub in Westport after may have indicated as much.
Nevertheless this year remains to be seen. Sport is a great thing in many ways because of the capacity to surprise, for rejuvination and learning. After we lost the All-I final in 94 I couldn’t see any way back for that team, I couldn’t see how we’d possibly have a better chance, or recover from yet another such crushing set-back. But unforseen things occurred in 95, a few elements conspired to open that door a crack one more time and the team and mgmt had the desire to get through, and had learned enough to do so.
For example, they way they protected the leads against Cork & Tyrone, a lesson very hard learned from the games lost (and drawn! ) in the previous six years, the 88 Leinster Final, 89 semi-final, not conceding stupid goals like the 1990 Leinster final, and we won’t mention 91, the 92 final, 93 semi-final - all games where significant leads were surrendered. Or chances not taken, such as the 94 final.
If Mayo can learn from the last day, if the stalwarts can be hurt enough to respond, for pride alone, and some newer lads start to step up, they can still make something serious out of this league, and this year. But they will need a fully fit LK on form. A top quality scoring forward to have a top year or at least summer. And to discover a midfield that can compete with most of the best, and some other element, ala Jayo for us in 95. Remember that Dublin team didn’t really have more than Dessie Farrell to really compare to the other top forwards in the country at the time. Didn’t have an outstanding midfield. Didn’t have one of the best two or three coaches around, I would argue.
How would Mayo ever hope to beat Dublin this year? They would need us to get knocked out by someone else based on the evidence so far, though every good fighter always has a slugger’s chance.