Four talking points as Dublin, Westmeath, Tipperary and Waterford fight for silverware

Posted by

Leinster SFC final

Dublin v Westmeath

2pm, Sunday, Croke Park,

Live on RTÉ

1 Cian O’Sullivan, the ideal sweeper

Despite the fact Dublin’s attackers have been gaining the vast majority of the plaudits, there is one particular defender who will be vital to them from this point onwards.

Cian O’Sullivan anchors the central defensive berth and his presence could be the real difference between Dublin 2014, the ‘underachievers’ and Dublin 2015, prospective All-Ireland champions.

Cian O’Sullivan is Dublin’s pivotal defensive screen.

O’Sullivan is versatile too – he has excelled, of course, both as a midfielder and wing-back when required to do so in the past.

Yet, he is the ideal No 6 for Jim Gavin’s side as his spatial awareness marks him out from the crowd.

One of Kilmacud Crokes’ most decorated operators, O’Sullivan will be the Metropolitans’ pivot performer in Croke Park again.

If Westmeath are to get within touching distance of Gavin’s side it is imperative they pin O’Sullivan back, placing him under pressure while in possession at headquarters.

2 Westmeath’s midfield

Tom Cribbin has shifted both Denis Corroon and Darragh Daly into midfield for Westmeath for the Leinster SFC final.

Westmeath’s Darragh Daly, left, tackles Meath’s Padraic Harnan.

Undoubted, Corroon and Daly will be ferociously confident of performing to a high level in the game.

However, in Brian Fenton and Michael Darragh Macauley the Lake County duo will be facing one of the in-form middle-third operators in the business and the 2013 Footballer of the Year.

It is, to say the least, a massive jump in class for Corroon and Daly.

Nevertheless, anything shy of those two generating 60% of possession for Westmeath in the most crucial sector of the field and Dublin will run riot once more.

Dublin, with James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey driving on to secondary possessions in the middle-third, tend to engineer the majority of attacks from their wing-backs careering into space.

However, have Westmeath the tools to contain them? Probably not.

Key men: Cian O’Sullivan/Dean Rock.

Verdict: Dublin.

Munster SHC final

Tipperary v Waterford

4pm, Semple Stadium, Thurles,

Live on RTÉ

3 Eamon O’Shea’s offensive game-plans

He was the attacking mastermind behind Lar Corbett’s majesty and Tipperary’s overall attacking magnificent in 2010 as the Premier County landed the Liam McCarthy Cup.

Eamon O’Shea and Tipperary could be celebrating on Sunday.

And you can rest assured Eamon O’Shea will have concocted an offensive gameplan that will ensure Waterford’s excessively-documented defensive system is rendered redundant in Thurles.

In 2016, allowing for the reality the Déise, a young unit, will have had an outstanding grounding this term, should be genuine Championship-winning contenders.

Yet, Tipp are simply much further down the road in relation to squad development and experience.

Furthermore, O’Shea has, previously, provided Tipp’s players with a platform to negate Kilkenny’s defensive strengths and will relish the opportunity to dismantle Derek McGrath’s rearguard tactics.

Brendan Maher may be detailed to counteract Tadhg de Búrca’s penchant for roaming as Waterford’s extra shield player.

That could allow Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Jason Forde to thrive.

4 Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh’s vast experience

Waterford are, by no means, without total hope of landing Munster final silverware in Semple Stadium, especially with Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh around.

Waterford will rely on Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh’s big-match experience.

There are fewer more experienced Munster SHC campaigners than ‘Brick’ at this point.

When you appreciate this is new territory for quite a few members of Derek McGrath’s team, Walsh’s presence in their dressing room will be of incalculable importance.

Before Waterford leave that sanctum in advance of their warm-up and again fill that area at half-time, ‘Brick’ is sure to impart a wealth of his knowledge of major occasions to others surrounding him.

Understandably, the majority of the focus is fixated on the likes of Colin Dunford and Maurice Shanahan.

Still, if Waterford are to prevail in a provincial showpiece for the first time since 2010, Walsh will have to produce a stunning performance, inside and outside of the dressing room.

Key man: Pádraic Maher.

Verdict: Tipperary.