I think that one result is largely irrelevant. It has happened other years, or could have happened other years bar a late goal masking the performance.
But I think there is another issue. I think the system has now over taken the players a bit. The team that is being picked is the guys who can best implement the system. Which is fine, until the opposition doesn’t let the system work and we need to go back to winning one on one battles. If we hadn’t got Connolly and McMenamin to come on at half time in the 2017 final we would have been beaten. We needed guys who are just better footballers, under pressure, then the other team had.
If a Mayo or a Kerry really push up on us at the moment, they will beat us. I have been struck by how Mayo have been pressing since Horan returned. They don’t have the fitness yet to make it work, but they will.
In the past pushing up on us was only a partial success because we could break the tackle or win the 50/50 ball and then we were in against a depleted defense. But if we can’t do that, pushing up can be a lot more successful.
Kilkenny can dominate a back, Mannion can too, but his skill execution will let him down sometimes and O Callaghan can break even with a back. The rest are great at patterns and skill execution, but might struggle if really under sustained, intense pressure. That is why Paddy Andrews is back getting lots of game time - his strength is needed. We need a Connolly or Flynn who can really dominate. Both of them probably had their best ever games in the 2014 loss to Donegal, that was a day when guys really needed to stand up, and they did. It doesn’t have to be them, but we need real powerful guys in there and I am not sure we have them. Howard will be in the half forward line and he will help. But I fear greatly we can now be caught by a really intense team.