THE last manager to lead Dublin into All-Ireland SFC battle has given his blessing to Pat Gilroy’s troops as they seek to snare pre-match favourites Kerry and bring Sam back to the capital for the first time in 16 years.
Dr Pat O’Neill has savoured the buzz around the city this week and feels “very confident” that the current team can emulate the All-Ireland achievement of his 1995 heroes. “It’s great to feel the atmosphere around that was there in the early ’90s. There is a great atmosphere and expectation, both in Dublin and everywhere,” O’Neill told the Evening Herald.
“It’s needed for Dublin GAA. It’s needed for Dublin. There is great support and I think everybody – bar the Kerry people – hope that Dublin will win, which is not the usual scenario.” The ‘Doc’ gave Dublin an excellent chance on the proviso that they “play to their capabilities, which they have already shown” during the quarter- final against Tyrone, plus long periods of last year’s semi-final against Cork and this year’s league final defeat to the Rebels. “It has happened on a number of given days. The whole thing is to sustain it and not to lose concentration and get distracted, because there is a period in these games when they (Kerry) will dominate,” he pointed out.
“But they have shown this year throughout the summer that they seem to be hardier, they seem to be a good bit more robust than in former years. I’m very optimistic,” he concluded. Both managers have named unchanged teams for tomorrow’s 3.30 throw-in at Croke Park, although question marks persist over Paul Flynn’s fitness for Dublin and whether Paul Galvin could be parachuted in from the start by Kerry.
Dublin are chasing a rare All-Ireland football double tomorrow, with Dessie Farrell’s highly-rated minors facing Tipperary in the 1.15 curtain-raiser.