Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Dubs can win if they believe
The Dublin footballers have their first outing of the Championship against Laois on Sunday and hopefully they can repeat the hurlers' successful start to the summer.
Pat Gilroy's men were unbeaten in the league until the final and only lost by a point to Cork so they are hot favourites to win.
If Diarmuid Connolly can rediscover the form that saw him score a hat-trick against Mayo in the league then we could have the makings of a 'dream' full forward line with Alan and Bernard Brogan.
Barry Cahill is a great attacking half-back but I'm yet to be convinced about him being at midfield – the area we got cleaned out by Cork in the league final.
Mossy Quinn is on the bench so it looks like Stephen Cluxton will be taking care of long range frees, it's a bit unorthodox to get the keeper to do this but if he puts them over the bar like he did last year then who cares?
Regarding the championship as a whole, Cork won't have the same hunger as last year, and Kerry and Tyrone are still in transition, so the Dubs mightn't get as good a chance to go all the way for a while. Anything less than an final appearance would be a disappointment.
Dublin's main problem in recent decades hasn't been a lack of footballing talent, it's a lack of mental strength.
I've lost track at this stage of the amount of big games we've lost by a point in the last few years, some of them games where we were well on top.
This isn't just a feature of the last decade however, the 1990s were as bad. Dublin were ahead in most of the four clashes against Meath in 1991, including being up by five in the second half of the last game, yet still managed to throw the leads away.
They lost against underdogs Donegal in 92, should have beaten Derry in 93 and Down in 94, and jut about scraped over the line in 95.
Last year's campaign offered some hope that Dublin may have conquered whatever mental demons that were holding them back.
After the shambolic and shameful collapses against Tyrone and Kerry in 2008 and 2009, finally beating one the 'big' teams, Tyrone, was a welcome relief.
I have to admit I wasn't a fan of Pat Gilroy at all before the win against Mickey Harte's men, due to the absolutely terrible performances against Wexford, Meath and Tipperary which followed on from the drubbing from Kerry in 2009.
The team began to turn things around against Armagh and then hit full stride against Tyrone.
Ok, we lost by a point against Cork, but at least the team went down fighting unlike the two previous years.
The jury is still out on Gilroy, but if my first impressions of his management turn out to be wrong I'll be delighted to say so!