Jim McGuinness: Dublin have the taste of defeat in their nostrils but they can still win three-in-a-row
Jim McGuinness has tipped Dublin to become the first side since Mick O'Dwyer's Kerry teams to successfully win three-consecutive All-Ireland finals.
The current Celtic development coach believes Jim Gavin's side will be able to bounce back from last month's Division 1 league final loss to Kerry, with McGuinness noting that the Kingdom may have landed their knockout punch on the defending champions too soon.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how that result impacts Dublin in the summer," McGuinness said at the Sky Sports GAA launch on Tuesday.
"Have Kerry broken that cycle or have Kerry sharpened Dublin's pencil? And that for me is a question. For the first time now in a long time, Dublin know what it feels like to lose, and I think that could be a good thing coming into the summer.
"They were vulnerable in the league - Donegal had them on the ropes, Monaghan had them on the ropes - so they were vulnerable in a lot of games.
"But I would have tipped Kerry to win the All-Ireland had they held that performance back. I think now you've got this different dynamic at play and personally I think that Dublin can actually do the three-in-a-row on the back of that league defeat.
"There's a lot of people questioning and doubting them, but at the end of the day, the had an incredible league run over the last number of years, and now they're chasing down three-in-a-row and they have the taste of defeat in their nostrils, and as a manager I think that's a really good place to be."
McGuinness said that Dublin and Kerry were still the two teams to beat in the championship, but that there were still another six teams capable of pulling off an upset on any given day.
The All-Ireland winning manager said that Mayo, Donegal, Tyrone, Galway, Monaghan and Cavan were all capable of challenging the league finalists, however, only the teams that possessed the marquee forwards will be the sides that have a genuine chance of defeating the top two.
"It's up to other teams now to try and come in and take them down," added McGuinness.
"Donegal have had a good league campaign and have a lot of young lads coming into the squad. How they deal with championship football at the early stages will be really important because Tyrone at the semi-final stages will be a defining game.
"Monaghan are seasoned campaigners and have marquee forwards. Donegal have marquee forwards. Tyrone not so much, but every single one of their players are very, very talented, so the collective is very strong.
"But for me the marquee forwards are the players that decide championship games. Dublin have them, Kerry have them, Donegal have them, Tyrone have had them previously when they were winning All-Ireland's, the Peter Canavan's and the Stephen O'Neill's, these players play a big part in the championship.
"The players that rise above their peers and that's what every manager wants - one or two of them in their squad."
McGuinness claims that his former side have two such players in Michael Murphy and Paddy McBrearty, but that as a collective, Donegal must learn how to win in the championship if the Forgotten County are to challenge for the Sam Maguire this year.
After defeating Mayo in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 2012, a game in which McBrearty and Murphy both started in, Donegal have made it past the quarter-final stages of the All-Ireland championship just once, when they were defeated by Kerry in the 2014 All-Ireland final.
Rory Gallagher's side have won just one Ulster Championship since that 2012 triumph, despite appearing in the last four consecutive finals.
Their one Ulster Championship win withstanding, McGuinness has once again tipped his former side to claim the Anglo-Celt Cup this year, with the Sky Sports pundit predicting that the combination of Murphy and McBrearty should overwhelm the other teams in the Ulster Championship.
"I tipped Donegal for Ulster last year, and I got a lot of stick for that, but I firmly believe they can win it this year again and the reason for that is I just think Michael Murphy is still one of the top players in the country," McGuinness added.
"They have got some really good young talent coming through as well but I just don't think Tyrone have that marquee forward that can take them through.
"We've got two in Donegal and that's why I think Donegal can win Ulster. Now with that said, they're young and they actually have to learn how to win in championship football, even though they've done really well in the National League this year.
"I believe they have enough senior players like Frank McGlynn and Karl Lacey knocking about, so I think the experience and youth that's coming through, and the marquee forwards, give Donegal a good chance."
Sky Sports has announced details of it's biggest and most comprehensive season of GAA coverage yet. Sky Sports will broadcast 14 (out of 20) exclusive fixtures with Dublin’s opening fixture on June 3rd in the Leinster Championship quarter-final acting as the curtain-raiser as they attempt to land a hat-trick of All-Ireland titles. Sky Sports will have expert analysis from Jim McGuinness, Peter Canavan, James Horan, Jamesie O’Connor, JJ Delaney, Ollie Canning and many more, including new addition to the analysis team, Monaghan football legend Dick Clerkin.