Three months later than usual, Dublin will try to win their sixth All-Ireland title in a row at Croke Park at the expense of Mayo on Saturday.
They are rewriting the history books over and over again and, should they claim the county’s 30th title, it will surely ensure they are regarded as the greatest football team of all time.
Dessie Farrell took over from Jim Gavin before the campaign commenced but there has been a seamless transition. If anything, Dublin over the last few weeks have looked better than we have ever seen them before and they are
1/4 for more All-Ireland glory.
The handicap spread is six points, but it’s worth noting that none of Dublin’s seven All-Ireland victories in the last decade have been by seven points or more.
Their biggest winning tally was when thumping Tyrone 2-17 to 1-14 in 2018. That was as all one-way traffic, the most one-sided decider in recent memory, yet they only won by six points.
All-Ireland finals are not won by wide margins. Indeed, the three times Dublin and Mayo have met in the decider – 2013, 2016 and 2017 – there has only been a single point between the sides.
The betting would make you believe this will be a cakewalk for Dublin, but recent history suggests it will be anything but.
Points May Prove Elusive
The total points spread has been set at 39.5 points but the average winning score in the last six All-Ireland finals is just 18 points.
Mayo scored 5-20 in their semi-final success over Tipperary, but that was a bonkers encounter where both sides created about seven or eight gilt-edged goal chances. Don’t expect Mayo to be so naive on this occasion.
All-Ireland finals tend to be tense and, just because this one is a few days shy of Christmas with no crowds, do not expect it to be any different.
O’Connor Mayo’s Difference-Maker
Con O’Callaghan is a match winner whose direct running style opens up defences. He would look the most likely candidate in the first Goalscorer market.
Cillian O’Connor scored 4-9 in the win over Tipperary, bringing his own individual tally to 5-31 for the year. He is once again guaranteed to be the championship’s top scorer, while Tommy Conroy has been a welcome addition to the Mayo attack.
That said, the price on offer about no goalscorer appeals as this could be cagey.
Sour Story for Mayo
It is hard to envisage anything other than a Dublin victory, but it might not be as straightforward as the betting suggests.
Dublin could struggle to cover the six-point handicap, but they ought to get very close to it so the advice is the champions to win by four, five or six points. If they build up a lead early in the second half, don’t be surprised to see them try to hold onto it rather than extend it.
17/4 outsiders Mayo, it looks like the curse of 51 will stretch on for at least one more year as they head into the final having lost all nine previous appearances since 1989.
*All odds correct at time of writing