Wednesday 7 December 2016

Modern-day Dublin a match for Heffo's Heroes, according to one GAA legend

Gaelic Games

Published 21/04/2016 | 02:30

Dublin players celebrate with the Sam Maguire Cup
Dublin players celebrate with the Sam Maguire Cup
Clare manager Mick O'Dwyer. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

The current Dublin football squad may be as good as 'Heffo's Heroes', the celebrated 1970s team that changed forever the face of Gaelic football in the capital.

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That's according to Mick O'Dwyer, the record-breaking manager who assembled an even better Kerry side to launch a lengthy period of intense rivalry between two great powers.

He also believes that the present-day Kingdom squad are improving all the time, paving the way for a new era of high-octane Dublin-Kerry showdowns.

"Both counties have a huge amount of talent at present. It's hard to see how they won't be playing each other a lot over the next few years," said O'Dwyer.

The battles between Kerry, managed by O'Dwyer, and Dublin, steered by Kevin Heffernan, re-energised the All-Ireland championship in the '70s and continued into the '80s.

They met in seven All-Ireland finals and semi-finals between '75 and '85, with Kerry winning five times to Dublin's two.

Dublin won three of four All-Ireland finals from 1974-77, and with the current squad having won three of the last five titles, comparisons between the two eras arise.

"It's hard to compare teams from different times because the game has changed so much," said O'Dwyer. "But any team that wins three All-Irelands in a short space of time can consider themselves as good as anyone who did it before. This is a very impressive Dublin team."

O'Dwyer is convinced that Kerry are rising rapidly too but while he would like to see them win on Sunday, he insists it doesn't matter in the longer term.

"I've said it all my life and I'll say it again - the Championship is all that counts. It's nice to win the League but don't worry about it if you don't. September is what matters," he said.

O'Dwyer believes that Kerry will have learned a lot from last year's All-Ireland final defeat by Dublin and while it remains to be seen if that makes a difference on Sunday, it will stand to them later on.

"There are a lot of really good footballers in Kerry at the moment," he said. "It's not just the team that starts either. There's plenty of talent on the subs' bench too - players who can come on and change a game. I have no doubt Kerry are getting better and that they will improve further over the next few years.

"People are saying Kerry need a win over Dublin on Sunday because they've lost a few big games in recent years, but that makes no difference. The past doesn't count. It's all about the future. I'm sure that's the way the Kerry lads are thinking."

Irish Independent

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