Mind games the real test, Mullins tells champions
CONTRARY to those who criticise the proliferation of handpasses and blanket defences, Brian Mullins doesn't believe that modern Gaelic football is any less attractive than in his own Dublin heyday.
However, as his native county open their All-Ireland title defence against Louth on Sunday, he believes it will be harder for them than for the team of 1976-'77.
"It is more competitive now, as evidenced by only one team putting back-to-back championships together in football in the last 20 years," Mullins said. "That's part of the nature of the competition, the way the format has changed."
"That's a good thing, it means no one team is dominating and it could be that there are a number of teams near the top."
Mullins believes Dublin's attitude and appetite will decide if they will be successful again this summer. "It's very difficult to measure fatigue, and mental fatigue in particular," he said. "You witness it in all sports, that even the successful outfits struggle, at times, with motivation and having to sustain their levels of energy, commitment and dedication.
"Teams can get away with less quality during the league at different times of the year, they can try and make sure that they're on the button when it comes to championship.
"You can spend hours and weeks and months preparing on the training field but you have to produce it once, for one hour or so, at a point or place, and that's the difficulty, for teams to get to the starting line in the right frame of mind repeatedly."
Mullins said he is not too bothered about the amount of handpassing in the modern game, which has attracted criticism in some quarters.
"Handpassing is used more commonly now as a means of transferring the ball, but that's just the way coaching has gone," he said. "I think as long as the Association retains an interest in reviewing and watching and considering change (in the game), that is good because change is healthy."