Saturday 21 October 2017

No one to challenge Dubs' procession in Leinster, insists Earley

Kildare legend Dermot Earley believes the Leinster football championship will continue to be a procession for at least the next “three to four years”
Kildare legend Dermot Earley believes the Leinster football championship will continue to be a procession for at least the next “three to four years”
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kildare legend Dermot Earley believes the Leinster football championship will continue to be a procession for at least the next "three to four years".

Dublin have won all but one of the last nine Delaney Cups, with Meath interrupting their winning sequence in 2010.

Since then they have won four in a row and they waltzed through the province last year, finishing the Leinster final with 16 points to spare over the Royals.

It has caused alarm bells in the corridors of power in Leinster with talk of the introduction of a round-robin system in the championship to try to reinvigorate the other teams in the province.

And while Earley stressed Dublin had unearthed a 'golden generation', he believes the likes of Meath and Kildare are still several seasons away from closing the gap.

"To be honest, Dublin are just so far ahead of the rest," Earley said at the launch of the Topaz Cash for Clubs scheme.

"I saw them against Donegal there and the scary thing is that they have so many players still to come in.

"And then they have all these young lads who are performing and performing so well. That's just going to build such competition within the squad.

"Certainly, I don't think anyone is going to challenge them in Leinster.

"I just can't see it. And they would be my favourites for the All-Ireland."

Meath and Kildare are the next in the running with the bookmakers for Leinster honours but they are generously priced at 15/2 and 12/1 respectively.

Unlike Dublin, both of those sides ply their trade outside the top flight with the Royals edging Jason Ryan's side in Navan to leave the Lilies with no points after two rounds in the league.

It was the second week in the row that they had blown a winning position, having also imploded late on against Down in round one in St Conleth's Park in Newbridge.

The manner of those defeats continued a worrying trend from 2014 that saw them concede two injury-time goals against Tyrone in Newbridge.

"I would never panic in February to be honest but it is worrying a little bit," Earley said of Kildare's form.

"We realised at the start we needed to get back into Division 1, that's where you want to be.

"The All-Ireland will be won by a team from Division 1 and if you want to win Leinster you are going to be playing Dublin a couple of times during the year and you can try and improve off that."

Earley insists there is still time for Kildare to revive their league campaign, starting with the visit of Westmeath on March 1.

"The chance isn't gone, we can win the remaining five games and get back up but certainly those two games were very important to get that ball rolling.

"The three-week break, I would have felt in the past that Kildare haven't kicked off from that like other teams do.

"So it will be interesting to see how they react in the first weekend in March because other county teams do use those weeks to push on and Kildare haven't in the past and they need to do that this time.

"I was at the Tyrone game last year and that hurt the boys and you can question yourself a little bit. I'd rather it happens earlier than later on.

"We're going to see how mentally tough they are."

Irish Independent

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