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Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: The GAA must be flexible

THIS weekend the All-Ireland Football Championships should have been at its penultimate stage. We were supposed to have been looking forward to two cracking semi-final contests, but unfortunately due to the times we live in that will not be the case.

We all knew that this was going to be a difficult year on all fronts as we try to get back to some sort of normality. Covid is still very much with us and will be for the foreseeable future so when little setbacks like this happen we have to just take it in our stride and make alternative arrangements.

Running a business here in Gaoth Dobhair over the summer has been an absolute nightmare in relation to close contacts and positive cases, so I can only imagine how tricky it must be to ensure that 30-odd footballers remain in the clear and out of harm’s way.

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Obviously the game cannot go ahead this weekend between Tyrone and Kerry but now there must be also major concerns about it going ahead next week.

Having being involved with club football down here with my own club and also dealing with staff members within our own premises here in Gaoth Dobhair, I realise how difficult and how long it takes for people to fully recover after being housebound for 10 to 14 days.

Thankfully to date I have never had Covid, but from the people I speak to who have had it, it seems to affect people in different ways and recovery can take longer for some people.

Can we expect a fully fit Tyrone team to take to the park next weekend? I feel that this is highly unlikely and therefore it is extremely tough on the Tyrone team and management after putting all that effort in to get in there.

I am not sure what the solution is, perhaps it is to push it back another week, but like I said at the beginning, these are strange times we are living in and we just have to adapt as best we can.

All we can do is trust that the powers that be will do the right thing and that this game will be played at a time when both teams are at their best or as close to that as possible.

The first semi-final of this weekend sees the clash old rivals Dublin and Mayo. Over the last number of years when these two heavyweights have met I don’t think I have ever thought in my head that Mayo could come out on top.

Dublin were always superior, they had a stronger panel and seemed to be playing better each time they met. Mayo to the credit always put it up to Dublin but in the end Dublin’s strength in depth would eventually see them through. This time around things may be slightly different.

Dublin have lost a lot of key men and this year more than any they look a little vulnerable from the outside looking in. It’s important to stress that vulnerability comes from us looking in, but as I said here after their win against Killdare, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Dublin machine is timing their run to perfection and perhaps we may see the very best of them this weekend.

Dublin have done whatever they have had to this season, be it in the league or championship. They haven’t set the world alight but they just get the job done and move onto the next game.

I saw them in the flesh against Donegal in the last league game and I have to say that I was extremely impressed by their physicality, fitness, composure and steel. Dublin are not just going to roll over and if any team wants to take their throne then they are going to have to come up with something very special indeed.

The big question this weekend is whether or not Mayo have progressed enough to do just that. James Horan has rebuilt this Mayo team after losing one or two of a stalwarts but the blot on the copybook this time around for me is the absence of sharpshooter and main scoring threat Cillian O’Connor.

When you look back at all of those clashes with Dublin over the last number of years, Cillian was to the fore on the scoring front and for me if Mayo had him this weekend then things may just have been a little easier for them.

It should be a cracking game but when I look at the game as a whole and I look at both squads in terms of the strength in depth and experience, everything just points towards a Dublin victory.

I said here after the Kildare game, when Dublin kicked 20 points at a canter, that Dessie Farrell’s side had their sights firmly fixed on All -Ireland semi-final day and I believe that a lot of the questions that are floating around about this Dublin team at the minute will be answered on Saturday night. If they play like I think they will then they will have a few weeks to sit back and watch what happens between Tyrone and Kerry, and for them that is an ideal situation to be in. Dublin by four.

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