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Donaghy believes Dublin can be caught 'in an All-Ireland semi-final on a wet day in an empty Croke Park'

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Former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy at the Sky Sports GAA Championship launch at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy at the Sky Sports GAA Championship launch at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy at the Sky Sports GAA Championship launch at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Kerry. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dublin can overcome the loss of Bernard Brogan and Diarmuid Connolly and perhaps even Jack McCaffrey – but the big imponderable this winter will be how they cope without Jim Gavin.

That's the view of Kieran Donaghy, even though the Kerry legend is still adamant that the five-in-a-row All-Ireland champions, now managed by Dessie Farrell in succession to Gavin, remain the obvious favourites to retain Sam Maguire.

"In player terms, I think Jack is a loss but I think they have guys to come in and fill the role, like they did the year he went away," Donaghy remarked, speaking at today's launch of Sky Sports’ championship coverage.

"Likewise with Connolly, likewise with Bernard and his injuries and his lack of chances in the last two years of his career.

"The last two guys (Connolly and Brogan), they haven’t started many games for Dublin in the last few years. Even the likes of Eoghan O’Gara and (Darren) Daly retiring, they were great squad players … but I still think they have the squad.

"The answer to the question is how good they are without Jim Gavin," the Sky pundit expanded.

"It’s been obviously very tough on Dessie, because your season is cancelled after two months and then you're probably zooming and chatting in meetings over the last four or five months.

"And then you only have a short period to try and get your team ready, so I don’t know how much Dessie will be able to put his stamp on the team. But look, they still have the players and they're still the favourites in my eyes until somebody goes along and beats them in a big game."

However, the 2006 Footballer of the Year has a suspicion that Dublin could be more vulnerable at the semi-final stage, compared to previous years, in the absence of the Super 8s round-robin group.

"I kind of felt that the Super 8s suited Dublin more than anybody," he explained.

"They were guaranteed these three games, they were always going to win two of them, they were able to try a few fellas here and there, they were able to finetune some tactical stuff – and they always knew that they were going to come into a semi-final on the back of three solid games against good-quality opposition.

"I think this year, they're going to be probably coming cold out of Leinster and if someone can catch them in an All-Ireland semi-final on a wet day in an empty Croke Park, that's probably the only way you see this Dublin team being beaten."


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