Friday 9 December 2016

'Obsession' with Dublin is hurting Leinster rivals, says Blues legend

'If you think you're going to lose, it's hard for the body to operate in the opposite way to the mind,' insists Dubs legend

Published 26/06/2015 | 02:30

Dublin legend John O'Leary believes the county should be facing a stronger challenge in Leinster
Dublin legend John O'Leary believes the county should be facing a stronger challenge in Leinster

John O'Leary is coming at it from a different viewpoint and a different time, he admits.

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Whereas Bernard Brogan and others might go through his career without ever playing a championship campaign outside Croke Park, O'Leary's career was less cosseted.

He remembers dumping his car as close to Croke Park as he could and walking down Clonliffe Road with a gear bag flung over his shoulder on his way to play for Dublin.

All the while he'd be fielding the gentle and not-so-gentle slagging.

Things have changed greatly since then. That sort of access is unthinkable now but some fundamentals remain the same.

With the four teams left in the race for the Delaney Cup all in action this weekend, O'Leary argues the rest of Leinster have essentially given themselves an out as Dublin took charge of the province.

They have, he says, taken the easy option and accepted that Dublin are as close to unbeatable to make no difference.

"Leinster has gotten boring because the challenge to Dublin has become less and less," he said.

Diarmuid Connolly celebrates scoring the first Dublin goal with team-mate Bernard Brogan
Diarmuid Connolly celebrates scoring the first Dublin goal with team-mate Bernard Brogan

"Back when I was playing - if you look at all the teams we played in Leinster finals - I played in maybe 15 Leinster finals and it was a mixture of Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Meath - there was always a challenge coming from somewhere.

"Maybe some of those counties have lost their way. Some of them need to work harder and stop being so obsessed with Dublin. Because the more they obsess about Dublin, the less they're looking at themselves."

Money and population only count for so much and he points out the smaller counties who have won major honours of late.

"What's the population of Donegal? How come they can win an All-Ireland and be in another final?

"Look at the geography of the county. They have lots of problems but they can still get over them.

"Westmeath won a minor All-Ireland and an U-21 All-Ireland. Why can't they do it at senior level?

"The issue is looking at Dublin and thinking Dublin is the issue. They're obsessed with Dublin and the population and the money they get from sponsorship and blah, blah, blah.

"But, ultimately, they can only put 15 fellas on the pitch anyway. So it's interesting when you hear a county say, 'We've only got a population of X and so many clubs'.

O'Leary gives Kildare a chance on Sunday but believes their greatest challenge will come from within. Recent history will tell them otherwise but their best chance of beating Dublin will come from a belief that they can win.

"Of course (Kildare) have a chance. Ultimately, for all the guff, it's about 15 fellas and one ball and four posts.

"But as the game trundles on, all that other stuff can come to the fore in fellas' minds, maybe in a tight game with 10 minutes to go.

"Because it's interesting. I was out with Louth there for a short while. Louth keep talking about that Leinster final and blaming Joe Sheridan.

"But why are you blaming Joe Sheridan? Because if you go back and look at it, Louth had the ball coming up the pitch and gave it away.

"The ball is hoofed into the square and Joe Sheridan has it in the back of the net and everyone is giving out about Joe Sheridan.

"It's typical. We were trying to get the Louth fellas to look at themselves instead.

"So it's a bit like the Irish soccer team blaming (Thierry) Henry for getting knocked out of the World Cup. It wasn't Henry's fault. It was only a small piece of the whole thing.

"So do Kildare have a chance? Yeah, of course they have a chance. But when the real hard questions are asked of them, I would be worried that all that other stuff might be in the back of their minds anyway.

"There is a phrase there that is used and it is, 'The way you choose to see the world creates the world you see'.

"If they see the world as one where they're not going to beat Dublin, ultimately their mind will operate in such a way as to prove them right.

"Because if you think you're going to lose, it's very hard for the body to operate in the opposite way to the mind. It's not natural."

John O'Leary was in Croke Park for the launch of the Bord Gáis Legends Tour

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