Monday 27 January 2020

10 reasons to be terrified of Jim Gavin's Dublin

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin

Declan Bogue

No point waiting around another month to say it; Dublin are the greatest Gaelic football team and will win Sam Maguire this year because they have everything in their favour.

And it's not by accident - they have worked hard to reach this healthy state of healthy affairs.

Doubt me? Or just interested how we get to that point of certainty? Well, let us explain.

1. Discipline

The moment Pat Gilroy took over in late 2009, he established a new credo. When Diarmuid Connolly missed an early-morning training session during a La Manga training trip, he was sent home.

Commercial gains were placed into a communal pot, eliminating the prospect of envy. Jim Gavin has continued in the same vein.

Pat Gilroy

2. Croke Park

When the Dubs enter Croke Park, they know every wrinkle and crevice. They use the same dressing room and can expect to play three or four league games there. Eamonn Fitzmaurice also expressed concern at ball boys being that bit slower to supply the ball to opposing teams when they are trailing.

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Dublin supporters on Hill 16 ahead of the game. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Dublin v Kerry, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

3. Panel depth

Before Rory O'Carroll, Paul Caffrey managed Dublin in four consecutive Leinster finals with a different full-back in each. Yet, Davy Byrne has stepped seamlessly into that line with O'Carroll away.

Lose Player of the Year Jack McCaffrey? Replace him with John Small. Dublin are blessed with a fleet of game-changers on the bench also.

John Small of Dublin in action against Michael Murphy of Donegal

4. Money

Ah yeah. They don't like it being mentioned, and you can't (for the most part) buy a player in county football. Still and all, they want for nothing and there has never been a brewing discontent among the Dublin panel over unpaid or late expenses, as there is in many others.

5. Cross-Pollination

Even a club as staunchly 'Dub' as St Vincent's have relaxed their stance on imports, tempting Mayo's Enda Varley, Westmeath panellist Lorcan Smyth and Galway's Fiachra Breathnach, joining Sligo's Brendan Egan in Marino. The Dublin Championship is probably the toughest in the country as a result of the quality of players hooking up with clubs in the Metropolis as the population continues to drift eastwards.

17 March 2016; The Ballyboden St Endas team celebrate following their side's victory. AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final, Ballyboden St Endas, Dublin, v Castlebar Mitchels, Mayo. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

6. Parnell Park

While Meath county board have had to deal with the floodlights problem in Pairc Tailteann, with the pylons needing to be secured and a major refurbishment required on the premises, Dublin county board have allowed Parnell Park to grow old with distinction, investing their energies and finance in various other ways.

7. Transport

Anyone who sits for 30 minutes to move 500 yards in Dublin traffic would dispute it, but Dublin have it good in terms of getting from work or college to training.

The sizeable proportion based in the southside might take an hour to get there, but compare that to the regular six-hour round trips that Karl Lacey, Paul Durcan and Paddy McGrath were enduring for the cause of Donegal, month in, month out.

8. Abbotstown

Another bug-bear among Dublin loyalists who feel they have no unfair advantages, the Abbotstown 'National' Centre of Excellence is a purpose-built High Performance Unit in all but name.

With Bryan Cullen, Dublin's High Performance manager overseeing the installation of the gym equipment, it is hard to see any other county using the facilities on a regular basis, other than Dublin as anchor tenants. Which is fair enough, given that they made a significant financial contribution towards it.

Other counties have issues with training bases. While Tyrone have the Garvaghey centre, the size of the project burned out volunteers and it takes plenty of money to keep the lights burning.

The other side of the coin are county sides like Armagh that move from pitch to pitch, relying on the generosity and flinging themselves at the mercy of clubs.

Director-General Páraic Duffy and GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail at the official opening of the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

9. Club fixtures

Of all the frustrations faced by outside managers coming in to take Dublin club sides, getting players involved in any inter-county side in either code at club training must rank high in their list.

10. Backyard bullies

With 11 of the last 12 provincials titles behind them, Dublin have established a supremacy in their backyard that makes any potential opposition look already beaten-down. Not since 2010 with Kildare, has a Leinster side other than Dublin made the last four.

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