Monday 24 April 2017

Off The Ball: Dubs' conveyor belt of talent not moving as fast as we think

'There’s been talk of a team that can dominate football for the next ten years. For me, this doesn’t ring true'
'There’s been talk of a team that can dominate football for the next ten years. For me, this doesn’t ring true'

Michael McCarthy

When Liverpool players of the 1970s and '80s reminisce about their consistent success, it's regularly attributed to a policy of always strengthening a winning team. That a league-winning team needs three new signings is as much a football adage as "a good touch for a big man".

For the last five years, we've been hearing about the unstoppable juggernaut that is Dublin football. Three All-Ireland titles in five years is certainly a phenomenal level of success. But there's been talk of a team that can dominate football for the next ten years. For me, this doesn't ring true. They just haven't had that consistent strengthening.

Of the 19 players that took part in the 2011 All-Ireland final, only six - Ger Brennan, Kevin Nolan, Barry Cahill, Bryan Cullen, Eamonn Fennell and Eoghan O'Gara - weren't involved in this year's triumph.

Striking

More striking, of the 20 that played in the 2013 final two years ago, only Paul Mannion, Brennan and O'Gara didn't feature against Kerry a couple of weeks ago. Both Mannion, who's taking a year out, and O'Gara, who's injured, would have been involved if they were available, so really that is minimal turnover over three seasons.

This is an exceptional group of footballers who have given the county its best success in 40 years but suggestions it's the start of a new era of Dublin dominance are surely a bit premature?

The idea of the conveyor belt of talent coming through may materialise, but up until now we've seen no evidence of it. The Dublin panel and starting team of the last five years is as settled as any you'd find in the country. For example, just six of Kerry's starters from the 2011 final were named in the 15 the 2015 decider.

Doubtless, those two teams had very different age profiles, but until we see Dublin seamlessly integrating new talent on a consistent basis, it's not time to give the next ten Sams over to the Dublin juggernaut just yet.

Irish Independent

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