#TheToughest Choice: Should Dublin axe Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn?
It's a big, big call.
Despite Mayo having to claw back a three point deficit in injury-time, the general consensus after Sunday’s All-Ireland Final is that Dublin have more scope for improvement ahead of the replay.
With such a depth of talent available and the likes of Paddy Andrews, Paul Mannion and Eoghan O’Gara chomping at the bit, there is speculation that Jim Gavin will make changes in the forward line.
Having been below their usual ridiculously high standards to date, Dublin stalwarts Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn are believed to be the most vulnerable to the chop.
Should Jim Gavin wield the axe ahead of the replay?
Pat McCarry says NO
There is no denying it, both Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan were not at the races last Sunday.
That said, there are few forwards that could walk away from the drawn game satisfied with their performances. Cillian O'Connor was kept quiet from play until his score at the death and Paddy Andrews put over two great points but he went quiet after the break.
The intense pressure brought to bear on both attacks, married with the poor conditions, meant scores were at a premium.
There are calls for Dublin to revamp their forward line but they may be best off switching Andrews for Kevin McManamon and telling Ciarán Kilkenny he can do more damage driving forward that arcing around the pitch looking for hand-pass options.
Brogan played a crucial role in the first Dublin goal, poking it forward to force the own goal. He is still getting in scoring positions and, crucially, away from his marker. Give him quicker ball - take advantage of the hair-trigger, intelligent runs he makes - and Dublin should prosper.
Brogan faced similar questions about his game in 2014 but bounced back in 2015 to score a massive 6-21 over the championship summer. His return has been 1-9 over five games this summer but Brogan is one of two Dublin forwards [Diarmuid Connolly being the other] capable of a 1-7 or 2-3 return.
The case for Flynn is somewhat harder but a similar big-game pedigree exists. He appears to be a man in need of a point, any point.
He was not helped at all by Dublin's ponderous build-up play, in that the Mayo defence had packed out their 45 by the time Dublin were in range.
The four-time All Star need only look to two of his past three final appearances if he has any doubts about doing some damage to Mayo. He was immense in the 2015 All-Ireland win over Kerry - scoring 0-2 and teeing up teammates for scores - while his goal was the Kingdom killer in April's league final.
Leaving either out would be akin to Mayo going in with Aidan O'Shea or Cillian O'Connor on the bench. A gamble for their team, a worry for their fans and an admission that Mayo had their number.
Both can do better, of that there is no doubt, but they are better served going at Mayo from the start and proving their worth.
Up the tempo and these two men will reward you.
Conor Heneghan says YES
As a biased Mayo man, I’m genuinely not sure whether or not I’d prefer if Jim Gavin decides to be ruthless and drop probably the two most important outfield players of his reign to date.
On the one hand, if he keeps faith with them, there’s every chance he’ll be rewarded with top-class performances from a man who was pound-for-pound the best footballer in the country for about four years (Flynn) and one of the deadliest finishers in the game, a man who, apart from last Sunday, loves playing against Mayo (Brogan).
On the other, the introduction of new (and damn good) faces would freshen up a forward line that Mayo seemed to handle comfortably the first day out, bringing an element of dangerous unpredictability into the mix.
Looking at it objectively, however, which Jim Gavin will certainly do, it might be time to do a Brian Cody on it and be most ruthless on the biggest day of all.
Part of the problem for Flynn and Brogan is the aforementioned high standards they have set for themselves.
Flynn has been delivering six or seven out of ten performances this season, but he used to consistently be a nine out of ten man.
He’s scored three points in four games in the Championship whereas you used to rely on him for three or four from play every game to go along with the savage work he got through, and still gets through, around the middle of the pitch.
Last season, Bernard Brogan nailed a whopping six goals and 21 points (6-21, for God’s sake!) in the Championship; so far this season, he’s only managed a goal and nine points.
For whatever reason, the pair of them just haven’t been able to reach their usual heights this year and though nobody would question Gavin if he keeps the faith, he might decide it’s time for a change.
It’s worth pointing out that Kevin McManamon’s proven ability to perform off the bench might see him return to that role for the replay, but his form up until the Mayo game should earn him the right to another start.
In any other team, particularly a team that has been winning as impressively as Dublin have been this season, dropping either one of Brogan or Flynn, never mind the pair of them, would be out of the question.
But no other team has the multiple options in reserve that the All-Ireland Champions have, which Mannion and Andrews in particular illustrated last Sunday.
When it comes to Flynn and Brogan, the old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent most certainly applies.
The only problem, is, next Saturday, with only one do or die game left, Jim Gavin might decide the first half of that saying is more important.