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Dublin to keep dreams of Sam very much alive

DUBLIN go into this coming Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Donegal as raging hot favourites and after blowing away each and every team that they have played so far it is hard to argue with that assessment.

The results have been predictable but in ways the performances have been 'professional' and ruthless without being spectacular and one feels that if they actually catch fire it could be a long afternoon for the 2012 champions.


It is worth pointing out however that all of Dublin's opponents so far operated in a lower division of the league as did Donegal but one expects the Ulster men to provide a very different challenge to the ones faced so far.

In 2011 this Donegal team under current manager Jim McGuinness frightened the life out of Dublin with their ultra-negative style and very nearly went all the way. It took a very organised and patient Dublin to stop them but back they came the following season and brushed everyone aside on their way to their first All-Ireland title in 20 years.

The game-plan had evolved by 2012 with a similar approach in defence but a more dynamic strategy up front. In the final against Mayo they caught the Connacht champions off guard in the opening minutes with some brilliant tactical switches and the two goals that followed gave them the platform they needed to go on and win the contest.

Last season we saw a tired team who never got close to performing the way they would have planned to but still managed to get to an Ulster final and an All-Ireland quarter-final.

The year ended in an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Mayo but that hasn't fazed them one bit and the character they have shown this year has been very impressive.

On that basis Dublin will need to take this game very serious and will need to be close to the top of their game.

Tactically it is going to be a fascinating battle and most people think that there is a clash of styles but Donegal have shown that they can go head-to-head and play an orthodox game as they did at the start of the final two seasons ago.

I would not be surprised if they do the same on Sunday especially in the opening minutes. I can see Michael Murphy on the edge of the square and a few bombs in early to see can they get that three-pointer to rattle Dublin.

I would be surprised if the Donegal forwards drop back allowing Stephen Cluxton to find his men from his kickouts. It was something Monaghan did and paid a heavy price because Dublin were able to pick their passes and find the gaps.


Dublin will set up like they always do and will work incredibly hard for each other. It is the way they play and if they can breach Donegal's rearguard early then the game could be over early.

I look at both teams and I don't believe that Donegal are improving while Dublin continue to produce the talent and for me are getting better every year.

That natural hunger you get from young players can be the key to keeping things competitive and healthy within a squad and it is this commodity that separates this Dublin team from any other team in the country.

Dublin to beat the handicap.