Mayo were poor-to-mediocre all the way to the final last year. They were very good in the first game and should have won bar two freak own-goals. They were a bit less good the second day.
This year they were poor-to-mediocre until the Qtr final replay. There they gave their best performance probably since a Connaught-championship game in 2015. As an attacking force they have been better since the Qtr final drawn game than at any time under Rochford so far, which is not a surprise as he spent last year working out their defensive structure, and this year sorting out a better attacking structure built up on what they have defensively.
I think he is correct to say Mayo are improved. They have better momentum and form coming into this final than last year.
Dublin have improved in terms of options, injuries, and form of some players. We have lost out in terms of Connolly, hard to know what he can offer if and when he plays. Though he was mixing brilliant and not so good last year. And some of our older lads are a year further on. But so are Mayo’s.
In conclusion I feel both teams/squads are improved, the big question is how much more Mayo have added in an attacking and scoring sense, and will Dublin produce the required intensity of performance as I feel Mayo certainly will. People have laughed about the notion of hunger being a factor here in the oast but you can’t discount when the game comes down the final stretch this time, will some of our lads want it as much as some of theirs? Small margins. “I’ve got 4 All-Is in my pocket/I’ll win more anyway,I’ve never known defeat” Vs “This is it, this is the one, it might be my last ever chance, it is my last ever chance, I may be young but I may not get another chance”.
Of course that last bit is nothing to do with improvement. But here’s another thing, the last few years Mayo have always looked like they don’t believe they are taking control of the game in finals and semi-finals, or when they have not closing it out. But against Kerry this year they did.