Excited for the weekend? Read on for all that you need to know about this year’s All-Ireland final between Tyrone and Mayo in the Emerald Isle’s premier game.
The All-Ireland final is due to take place this Saturday in Croke Park, with Ulster kingpins Tyrone facing off against Connacht champions Mayo in a mouth-watering clash.
Before the season commenced, it would have taken a brave punter to predict that these two sides would come head-to-head in the football decider. But worry not as we have you covered with all you need to know for the All-Ireland final.
The All-Ireland final – the lowdown on the game
The All-Ireland final will take place on Saturday 11 September at Croke Park in Dublin, with throw-in scheduled for 5 pm. Cavan man Joe McQuillan will referee the clash.
With Dublin having completed a historic six in a row in 2020 and Kerry pushing them close in 2019, it was widely believed that the Dubs would make it seven or the Kingdom would put an end to the blue wave.
However, it was Mayo who finally put the sword through the impenetrable Dublin armour and Tyrone who toppled the Kingdom to set up this eagerly anticipated All-Ireland final.
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How to watch – don’t miss out on the action
Due to the effects of COVID-19, Croke Park will not be at full capacity for the All-Ireland final. Instead, the home of GAA will play host to a total of 41,150 fans, 50% of the stadium’s total capacity.
GAA President Larry McCarthy said it was “too onerous” to plan to allow 60,000 spectators into the game in time. Thus, capacity will remain as it was for the semi-final games.
Tickets will be harder to come by this year with reduced capacity, as each county has received 2,000 fewer tickets than what they usually would.
So, if you haven’t been able to secure a coveted ticket or are not in a buzzing bar in the capital to follow the atmosphere, you can watch the game from the comfort of your home. Both RTÉ and Sky Sports Arena will broadcast the game live.
Paths to the final – how they got there
Mayo, who lost to Dublin in last year’s decider, as was the case in 2013, 2016 and 2017, conquered Connacht with convincing victories over Sligo and Leitrim.
They then renewed a historical rivalry with Galway in Croke Park in the final, where Mayo ran out 6-point winners. The mighty Dubs stood in the way in the last four, aiming for seven in a row.
Despite trailing at the break, Mayo rallied strong and equalised in the dying embers of the game. A strong showing in extra-time secured a magnificent 0-17 to 0-14 point victory, a win that will live long in Mayo memory.
Tyrone, on the other hand, endeavoured through Ulster. They defeated reigning champions Cavan by eight points before they put Donegal to the sword in Ballybofey. The Red Hand County reclaimed Ulster with a nail-biting one-point victory over Monaghan.
Kerry were up next and gunning for All-Ireland glory in the absence of the Dubs. However, Tyrone prevailed, putting three goals past the Kingdom in a clinical and impassioned performance.
Key clashes to look out for – deciders of the game
In the week building up to the final, conversation abounds about who will line out, who will mark who, and who will be the players that might tip the scale in their side’s favour.
Darragh Canavan and Cathal McShane made pivotal impacts from the bench for Tyrone against Kerry. Thus, they may be held in reserve again for the All-Ireland final. Kieran McGeary will lead from number six again, while Morgan will orchestrate from goals.
For Mayo, Lee Keegan is still an influential player, while Aidan O’Shea will be aiming to take Mayo across the line once and for all. Diarmuid O’Connor is another to watch out for, while Paddy Durcan will be a marauding force from half-back.
Predictions – who will be crowned All-Ireland football champions?
The 2021 All-Ireland final is a game that you cannot predict, with the scales so evenly filled. Both sides showed remarkable levels of heart, grit, and determination to prevail in extra time.
Ryan O’Donoghue will rival Darren McCurry as the main marksman, and whoever comes out on top might decide the game. Aidan O’Shea and Matty Donnelly will look to drive their sides too. At this stage, we don’t know.
Despite the infamous Mayo curse, all we can predict is that it will be a clash for the ages.