The Top Three versus the Field. Part 1: the Dubs

Last year he provided a number of previews over the course of the championship season and so I’m delighted to welcome JPM back into the guest slot to provide his thoughts on this year’s summer campaign. In this first of a series of pieces on the leading contenders for Sam, he looks at the prospects for defending champions Dublin.   

‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’. So goes the quote. And Dublin are the reigning All-Ireland champions. But when watching current Dublin inter-county football it’s difficult to see this reference being applicable.

Early League success was severely tempered by the trip to Mayo and then a subsequent failure in Cork ensured non-qualification for the League semi-finals. No doubt this seriously disappointed the heavy hitters in Croke Park, considering the paltry 11,000 attendees for that double-header. Undoubtedly a Kerry/Dublin rematch was what the coffer boys wanted. But of the four teams that finished above Dublin in the League, all four also beat them. So it really wasn’t by fluke that they ended up in fifth place.

On top of this are the more serious questions hanging over the temperament of some of this current Dublin side. It wasn’t just the defeat in Castlebar that was significant. The lack of discipline and self-control of key men led to several yellow cards and subsequent dismissals.

Are these guys just quite happy to swan around as All-Ireland champions? Is there a belief in their heads that the rest of the country is only good for licking the mud from their boots?

If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then Dublin could be in for an almighty shock, as unfortunately for them the stats don’t read well. Only one team in the past 20-odd years has succeeded in retaining back-to-back All-Irelands: Kerry in ‘06 and ’07. You could argue that stats are meant to be broken but Dublins’ patchy performances in this year’s League points to a dip in form. Maybe it’s only second season blues, but it certainly has given Pat Gilroy plenty to mull over.

However there are still positives. First of all will be the return of the Brogan brothers. They will bring experience and familiarity back to the team. Plus an added cutting edge up front.

Another is the fact that Gilroy has now plenty of sticks to beat this team up with. He knows he has the backing of the fans and the board, therefore he can do whatever he likes with this group of players. No-one is above him in the pecking order. The players know (or should know) that they will have to perform or they will be pulled aside, big reputations or not.

Also the players themselves know the odds are against them regarding back-to-back All-Irelands. Bryan Cullen spoke on radio about the job facing this team and he mentioned this fact stating that the team is well aware of this uncomfortable statistic.

But perhaps the biggest positive for the Dubs is being back in Croke Park itself for the foreseeable future. Croke Park feels like a fortress to Dublin, and in all honesty it does prove a most difficult nut to crack for nearly all opponents. Overall their championship record there is impressive and the added benefit of playing home League games there gives them the experience and big time feel required for the forthcoming championship encounters. With a full house it is definitely worth a couple of points on the board to them.

So really it’s no more trips to the countryside for these guys, getting waylaid in the South, ambushed out West, or shot down up North. Dublin will be hoping that the high stands of the Croker Coliseum, aligned with their baying mob on the Hill, will bring back the strength to this team. And in doing so prevent any more damage being inflicted from outside forces on their quest for more glory.

Next up Kerry.

14 thoughts on “The Top Three versus the Field. Part 1: the Dubs

  1. Dublin could be lucky in Leinster. The focus will be on the elephants pregnancy that is Kildare and the Banty show in the Rile.

    Wexford who actually have achieved as much as McGeeneys Lilys will puncture a few balloons . The Dubs will travel under cover for a while. Their biggest problem will be separating who is hungry and who is sated. Get that right, toss in Kilkenny and who knows? They won’t be far off

  2. I think luck, who you draw and referees always have a say in who wins the AI.
    Kildare will feel they are due some luck, Dublin got a bit last year (free against Kildare, avoiding Cork).
    It will be interesting to see what happens if they don’t win Leinster and I would fancy Kildare or Wexford to run them close this year. Maybe a few road trips will do them some good

  3. Its cork for me this year for sam granted they dont get any mor injurys n a rub tha green from tha refs like they got n tha league final.

  4. I logged on today looking forward to a report on Mayo’s emphatic victory over Galway yesterday in a National League Final. Where is it?

  5. I’m just about to do something brief on it, Grainne. Much as I admire the girls’ exploits, I don’t do that much on them at the best of times – I simply can’t cover everything, nor do I ever pretend to. So, in answer to your “where is it?” query, I’m afraid that the link to the RTE report provided by Albany (thanks for posting them) is probably the best place to head to.

  6. Gráinne Uaile, your sense of entitlement is pretty mystifying. Willie Joe runs this blog on a voluntary basis. He has a life outside of it, believe it or not.
    If the ladies NFL Division 2 final meant that much to you, you could have either gone to see it, or watched the live coverage on TG4, and written your own report.

  7. To be fair to Grainne, Davy, I’ve obviously created an expectation that there should have been a report so I guess I should take it as a compliment, even if it was based on an expectation that I wasn’t in a position to deliver on in this case.

  8. Fair point WJ, but I think you’re being taken for granted here. The service you provide is a fantastic one but my understanding – and, I hope, that of most other posters – is that it is a voluntary one.

    This isn’t an ‘official’ Mayo GAA site : it isn’t a media outlet / news source of record. So, if a match report appears here, great; if it doesn’t, I don’t believe that anyone should be coming on here demanding to know where it is.

  9. Agreed DavyJ and I suppose its a testament to WJs fine site that such an expectation exists. Long may it remain free and accessible to us all.

  10. That’s absolutely correct, Davy, and I was a bit thrown myself when I first saw that “where is it?” comment. I do know and accept, however, that I’m the one who has created this expectation so I can’t really complain about it. Oh, by the way – I did already say that I’ll be away on a family holiday again this year the weekend of the Connacht final, didn’t I? I guess it’s important to set expectations in advance!

  11. Sorry Willie Joe I didn’t mean to offend you. I, like all the other members, really appreciate the service you give us. With a young family and what sounds like a demanding job, you do a magnificent job. By the way John Cuffe congrats on a fine letter on the Indo. to-day

  12. No offence taken, Grainne, no need to apologise. As I’ve already said, I know that I’m the one who has created this expectation, one that I can’t meet on every occasion.

  13. Thanks Grainne, I seem to be afflicted with fighting windmills at this stage of my life!

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