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Thursday 17 April 2014

Derry legend Brolly calls Dublin's ability to stay the distance into question

Joe Brolly
Joe Brolly

Derry legend Joe Brolly insists Dublin look like a team who could "wilt" under pressure, despite winning their first league title in 20 years with a late scoring burst.

Jim Gavin's side came out on the right side of Sunday's league final clash with Tyrone and while they have earned widespread acclaim for their expansive game plan, Brolly (right) sounded a note of caution as the Dubs prepare for summer action.

"There's a big question mark over the Dubs, and I thought you could feel it on Sunday... I mean, Tyrone are no mean team, but they're very, very defensive and they're not good at getting scores, so you would have expected the Dubs to win by more, if they were really where they needed to be. And they didn't do that.

"Also, I felt that a lack of confidence started to spread through the team as the game went on. (Bernard) Brogan was taken off. Dean Rock's two points came out of the blue at a time when it really looked as though Tyrone were more solid, more composed," said Brolly at the launch of the GAA's All-Ireland Golf challenge of which Brolly's 'Opt for Life' campaign is one of the beneficiaries.

"So, the big question is: Are the Dubs going to be able to stay the distance?

"They certainly looked, to me, like a team that are well capable of wilting under severe pressure."

Dublin start their championship campaign against either Westmeath or Carlow on June 1 and while the 1993 All-Ireland winner agrees the Dubs will be "there or thereabouts" in September, he sees Donegal as the leading contenders.

"As the game wore on against Tyrone – you could see (Dublin) starting to accept that 'this is just the way it's going to be.'

"Donegal never do that. You'll see them – Donegal – keep busting through.

"They'll keep creating opportunities.

"You'll never see them for a moment flagging or wilting, even when things are against them. And I just didn't get that feel about that Dublin team, I've got to say, particularly their forwards," said Brolly.

"You'll never see them for a moment flagging or wilting, even when things are against them. And I just didn't get that feel about that Dublin team, I've got to say, particularly their forwards," said Brolly.

"Gavin is doing he right thing. He is increasing his versatility, he is introducing very good forwards, particularly Mannion. The pace of the team is incredible now.

"He has gone for pace all over the team, even at midfield. But I think that the current Dublin midfield would most definitely struggle against Donegal, for example, with Neil Gallagher or Aidan Walsh, players like that."

Rock's late scores, which helped Dublin seal a first league title since 1993, also saw him emulate his father Barney's league success in 1987.

And while Rock Snr admires Gavin's game plan, he expects Dublin to have altered their approach ahead of the championship.

"I'm sure that they will adapt a little bit. But, what has worked for Jim is the quick moving of the ball and they're all the time on the go. Their superior fitness will be good for them, certainly in the early rounds of the championship.

"I suppose everybody would expect them to beat Westmeath or Carlow, or whoever it may be – certainly when they are playing in Croke Park.

"I'm sure everybody will be looking at a Kildare/Dublin semi-final, but then we all thought that was going to be the Leinster final (last year) and all of a sudden Meath came through, so you can never count anything out. But, if it does happen that Kildare meet Dublin, it will be interesting to see what kind of a game that will be."

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