'Alan Brogan is a bigger asset to Dubs than Paul Galvin is to Kerry'
Tommy Carr puts the spotlight on veterans, writes Liam Kelly
FORMER Dublin player and manager Tommy Carr tips Alan Brogan to make a bigger contribution to Jim Gavin's team than Paul Galvin will to Kerry in the championship.
The question about Brogan (below) arose as he discussed Dublin's prospects against Monaghan in the Allianz League semi-final at Croke Park tomorrow.
Brogan's return to Dublin colours was announced earlier in the week, while Galvin came out of retirement after a year to rejoin the Kingdom panel last month.
Carr always calls a situation as he sees it, and he was unequivocal in assessing the potential impact of the two big names on their respective counties.
"I can see him (Brogan) having a much bigger contribution to make to Dublin than I can see Paul Galvin having a contribution to make to Kerry," said Carr.
"Alan is 33 but he skipped a year through injury. He is a very talented scoring forward and has vast experience.
"Paul Galvin is what, 35? I don't think he has been particularly good for Kerry over the last two or three years anyway while he was there, and he's coming back into an All-Ireland winning team. Do they really need him?"
That's a question that will be answered over the summer. In the meantime, Dublin bid for a third consecutive appearance in a League final and ultimately, their aim is a third League win in a row.
They do so on the back of a 1-22 to 1-11 victory over Monaghan in Clones last Sunday, and for Carr, it was the right performance at the right time for the Dubs.
He believes that following the shock defeat to Donegal in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, this League series has greater significance than might have been the case if they had retained the Sam Maguire Cup in 2014.
"The League has been useful for Dublin in that they've blooded a lot of players. They also stuttered a little, and were looking like they were getting caught in no-man's land in terms of knowing a team or having a purpose," he said.
"We know they have the players, but it's putting them together and knitting them together is a challenge.
"That has started to happen for Dublin, and I think that the Monaghan game will have brought the Dublin team on a huge amount."
Opponents know all about the Dublin's offensive threat, but so far they have also shown a miserliness about the defensive side of the game.
The metropolitans have the best defensive record in the top two divisions of the League. Their average concession per game is 0-12, and that's even better than the dreaded swarm defence of Donegal.
On average, the Dubs have shipped five points less per game than in last year's League.
The implication is that manager Gavin and his backroom team don't want to leave the back door open again as they did when being hit on the break by ultra-defensive Donegal last August.
In general, Carr believes that swarm defences being used against a powerhouse such as Dublin is only part of the answer for opposing teams.
"It's not just Dublin. All teams have a difficulty when they're faced with packed defences," he said.
"But then, other teams have a major difficulty as well, because the more they pack their defence, the more difficult it is for them to go up and score themselves, so it's a two-edged sword.
"Because of the manner in which they play, I think that defensively, Dublin are as good as they can be.
"Most teams can build a defence. For most teams, that's not their major problem. The other end of the pitch is everybody's major problem.
"But Dublin have an abundance of riches there."
No doubt Monaghan were shocked at the margin of defeat last weekend. They are a hardened bunch of proud footballers, but Carr cannot see past a victory for Dublin.
"The task for Monaghan now is to see can they cut the deficit. Realistically, are Monaghan going to beat Dublin?" he said.
"Not unless Dublin put in a poor performance.
"If Dublin put in a good performance or anything from good upwards, Dublin will win this game, particularly as Croke Park gives them the environment in which to play fast, open football."