Enda McNulty breaks down how Dublin and Mayo can find the mental edge in the white heat of battle

"The curse is a joke. It's a bit like Father Ted" - The Motiv8 founder and All-Ireland winner chats to Raf Diallo

Alan Freeman, Diarmuid Connolly

Alan Freeman and Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin after the game ©INPHO/James Crombie..

Watch the All-Ireland final or any sporting event and you're witnessing the concept of performing under pressure.

For Dublin and Mayo, there is pressure, but it's a different sort of weight on their respective shoulders.

One has become associated with final defeats and a so called "Curse" which is brought up jokingly at this time of year, the other has yet to retain a Sam Maguire in this era despite their brilliance. 

But something will have to give on Sunday, September 18th.

Sports psychologist Enda McNulty, CEO and founder of Motiv8, knows a thing or two about playing in the pressure cooker environment on All-Ireland final day at Croke Park, having done so for Armagh - winning in 2002.

SSE Airtricity, Ireland’s largest provider of 100% green energy, today launch their #PowerOfGreen research findings with leading Irish stars, Enda McNulty, Alison Spittle and Richard Dunne, highlighting the achievements the nation is proudest of, our stand-out character traits and the ‘Irishisms’ that people in Ireland most relate to.

To celebrate the #PowerOfGreen all customers who switch to SSE Airtricity will receive €120 credit, as well as 10% off their home energy.

For more information on how to switch, please visit www.sseairtricity.com.

Pictured today Enda McNulty ©INPHO/James Crombie

At the launch of SSE Airtricity #PowerOfGreen campaign, he spoke to Newstalk.com about sports psychology, including applying the concepts and questions to issues like why England seem to continually freeze at major football tournaments and why Ireland seem to have problems with maintaining possession and holding on to leads through multiple management regimes. You can listen to the full chat here:

But with the All-Ireland final coming up, we spoke about the different mental questions that Dublin and Mayo will be trying to answer and here's what McNulty had to say.

Mayo and the so-called "Curse" 

"First of all, I don't believe in witchcraft so the curse is a joke. It's a bit like Father Ted. If they want to have a fun, comedy-oriented skit to talk about the curse of Mayo football, that's appropriate.

"But when you're talking about a group of fellas, who have spent 10 years of their lives trying to be a successful team, it's absolutely and utterly irrelevant - if they decide that it's irrelevant. So what they have in their hearts and souls is more important than any mythology.

"Now how do Mayo win this match? I think they're physically strong enough. I think that they've now matured from a tactical point of view and I think they've got good leaders now in every line of the pitch.

Mayo's Keith Higgins dejected after the game.Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

"They've got the technical skills, they've got a coach who's been there and won in an All-Ireland final at club level. They've got another coach on the sideline, Tony McEntee, who's won multiple times in Croke Park whether it was Crossmaglen or with Armagh.

"They seem to have learned from the past in terms of understanding how to close games out even when you're not playing pretty. They seem to be putting their best players in the best positions, so Mayo have matured as a team. However, they're up against a very formidable opponent. Dublin without any question are one of the greatest teams of any generation. 

Dublin and the difficulty of defending an All-Ireland

"We tried to defend the All-Ireland in 2003 and came very close to it. Defending the All-Ireland, I think one of the critical periods is the two months after winning the All-Ireland. I think that's the difficult period because in that period you do a lot of socialising, you've a lot of people dragging out of you and you may miss gym sessions or don't do the extra skill sessions. Perhaps, you don't meet up in your different groups to have that cup of coffee [to talk] about how you're going to win the next year's All-Ireland - those things that happen in the two or three months post-All Ireland final. 

Dublin's Kevin McManamon celebrates after scoring a goal ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

"I don't think now that Dublin are in any danger of worrying that they're not ready for this battle. They're ready and in a place in which they can win this match. We know that physically they're in good shape and mentally they're in great shape, they've got the technical, tactical game, so on. I think there's no question.

"I do think Mayo are going to have to do a little bit what Tipperary did [in the hurling] and challenge Dublin in a different way.

"I don't mean what's largely touted in Kerry ranks over the last few weeks, that you had to do something dirty or something that puts them off their game.

"I mean almost bringing a new attacking angle, bringing a new dimension to their game that Dublin don't expect. But not bringing it in the first five minutes and then Dublin go 'we just change around our defensive setup'. It's bringing a different surprise almost every 10 minutes.

Enda explains how this photo of Kieran Donaghy making a lunging tackle on Ciaran Kilkenny tells you about the mental side of the Kerry v Dublin semi-final and how the Kingdom capitulated ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

"That's what the great teams are able to do. The average teams bring one surprise and they work on that for four weeks. The best coaches and the best teams are able to bring four surprises in the first half and four surprises in the second half.

"I remember way back in the day, myself and my brother Justin in Armagh using the phraseology that we'll bring the surprise to our opponents. We will not be surprised. I think Mayo will need to bring four surprise packages in the first half and four surprises in the second half to win this game. I don't think one surprise package will suffice and I don't think the vast majority of coaches and leaders even sit down and think about that. And I don't mean surprise by 'we're going to hit hard'. Anybody can hit hard. That's a basic. I mean, 'Can we vary the trajectory of the ball? Can we vary the angle we kick the ball in from? Can we vary how fast we play and how slow we play? Can we vary the angle of our attack? Can we vary the angle of the man coming off the shoulder? Can we vary how quick it takes to get the ball from the goalkeeper to over the bar and into the net? Can we score three scores on the trot? How can we obliterate them defensively - like the way the Seattle Seahawks change the game because of how formidable they were defensively?'" 

SSE Airtricity, Ireland’s largest provider of 100% green energy, today launch their #PowerOfGreen research findings with leading Irish stars, Enda McNulty, Alison Spittle and Richard Dunne, highlighting the achievements the nation is proudest of, our stand-out character traits and the ‘Irishisms’ that people in Ireland most relate to.

To celebrate the #PowerOfGreen all customers who switch to SSE Airtricity will receive €120 credit, as well as 10% off their home energy.

For more information on how to switch, please visit www.sseairtricity.com.