McConville gives his view on Mayo facing the Dubs and the future of Ulster football

Oisín McConville has said he believes Mayo are in the best position possible to beat the Dubs in next week’s All-Ireland final as long as the Westerners don’t over think it, writes Ciara Phelan.

Speaking at the launch of the second National Concussion symposium in Croke Park yesterday, the retired Armagh star said if Mayo can keep up the energy they have been playing with, it will make for a brilliant All-Ireland final.

“They’re the only team that can match Dublin physically and athletically, and that makes a hell of a difference,” he said.

Oisín McConville at the launch of the second National Concussion Symposium Media Briefing in Croke Park yesterday. Pic: Inpho

Complementing Dublin’s style of play, McConville said his five-year-old son wants to watch the Dubs play but would turn down an Ulster Championship match, even if Armagh were playing.

“He’s only five and football nuts, whenever I say I’m going to a Dublin game he wants to go,” said McConville.

“If I tell him I’m going to an Ulster Championship match, maybe even Armagh, he’ll take it or leave it. If he wants to see football, he’ll go to the Dublin match. How they dispensed with Tyrone in the first 20 minutes – I was just sitting back enjoying it.

“That’s the way people are. That’s why there’s a scramble from all over the country to go and see this game.

“I think this All-Ireland final can eclipse the hurling for the first year in a long time. Because I can’t see how this could be a poor game, I really can’t. Mayo are in the best position they’ve been in in a long time – as long as they don’t over-think it.”

McConville said playing the defensive system in Division 1 football is very difficult, especially in Croke Park and that Ulster football got a “rude awakening” when the Dubs defeated Tyrone in the semi-final.

“That style of play, when we seem to get to the bigger games, that’s when it’s more difficult to play that defensive system in a pitch like Croke Park,” he said.

He recalled Mattie McGleenan saying he was going to change things up when he took over the Cavan team last year but the changes he made didn’t last too long.

“There’s nobody really thinking outside the box in Ulster as regards playing a bit more on the front foot. When Mattie McGleenan took over Cavan last year, he said that he was going to change things and that it was going to be completely different. And it was, for about 35 minutes. And then he realised, ‘That’s not going to work up here. It’s not going to work in Division 1.’ He changed things immediately,” he said.

“I was hoping they would have been the team that would turn things around a little bit. Maybe it is time that some other team stepped up.”

At the event in Croke Park yesterday, McConville said everyone was expecting Tyrone to put it up to the Dubs but admitted they didn’t even manage to frustrate them and the game was ober within fifteen minutes.

“The game was over after 10 or 15 minutes effectively. Ulster football isn’t in a great place,” he said.

On Mickey Harte’s management, McConville believes Harte who confirmed another three years with the Tyrone team should seek help and realise that they need to change their system.

“It’s unlikely he’s going to change things dramatically. I think he still thinks that’s the best way he can win,” he said.

“Maybe it’s time for him to take in somebody alongside himself and Gavin Devlin, a Canavan or a Dooher or a Fergal Logan or somebody who’s had a bit of success with that U-21 team.

“I’d love if Tyrone getting beaten in a semi-final meant that they would go away and look at how they play football but I still think the biggest lesson the last day was what it takes to challenge at that level. I don’t think they’ll go away and say, ‘we need to change our system’, believe it or not.”