O'Carroll insists 'naive' Dublin won't be caught cold again
Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30
You would struggle to find a neutral who doesn't think Dublin will ease to a fifth consecutive Leinster title, but inside the Dubs camp, there is no room for such complacency.
Competition for places has further heightened the sense of expectation ahead of Sunday's quarter-final meeting with Longford, and despite winning their third League title in a row last month, Rory O'Carroll believes that his side are still some way off finding their stride.
Having picked up a hamstring injury in the League decider against Cork, O'Carroll remains a doubt for Sunday's encounter, which he describes as a 'lose-lose' situation for the Dubs.
Longford topped Division 4 and on paper shouldn't trouble Dublin at Croke Park, but O'Carroll insists that Jim Gavin won't allow his side to get ahead of themselves.
"For us, in many ways, to people looking in it's a lose-lose," the full-back said.
"We're expected to win and if we lose, we're branded as losing to a Division 4 team. It's going to be tough either way. They're definitely going to up their game.
"The competition for places would be a huge driving force.
"If you perform poorly, it's going to seriously reduce your chances of starting the next game. That's going to follow on for the season. Nobody wants to put themselves in that position.
"Jim is very focused on the opposition. He wouldn't let our standards slip. We wouldn't prepare for any game differently than another."
Dublin's mindset may not differ from game to game, but there has been a shift in their style of play, according to O'Carroll.
Lessons have been learned from last year - in particular, when Dublin struggled to break down Donegal's blanket defence - but O'Carroll has urged his side to 'embrace' that challenge this season.
"We need to be more defensively minded. We were exposed hugely and we did pay for that," the Kilmacud Crokes clubman acknowledged.
"There have been times I've been blowing my lungs out trying to get lads back to cover.
"It has changed slightly where the full-back line has that bit more cover. It's really a work in progress. We struggled around it in the League.
"We had no consistent performance, really, throughout (the League). It was very topsy-turvy, so during the summer it is just trying to be more consistent.
"We might have been a bit naive (last year) going al-out attack which felt great, it was really enjoyable to go out and do that. Now we just have to embrace the challenge of beating the blanket defence."