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Eight Dream Deadline Day targets to knock Dubs off their perch

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Mayo's Lee Keegan. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Mayo's Lee Keegan. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

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Filling problem areas with the best players from outside their county boundary and the trophies that could potentially follow as a result is something inter-county football managers must dream of regularly.

And while there's no GAA Transfer Deadline Day, and thankfully nothing resembling Jim White's yellow tie-wearing pantomime, imagine if county bosses were allowed to sign one player from any other county.

One player doesn't make a team but the wish list below for football's biggest hitters would likely have them believing that they could bridge the gap to the treble-seeking Dubs and lift Sam Maguire in 2017.

Kerry - Ciarán Kilkenny

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Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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Dublin's Ciarán Kilkenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Not since Paul Galvin's finest days in green and gold have Kerry had someone who can link defence with attack in such a combative manner, and Dublin linchpin Kilkenny would offer Eamonn Fitzmaurice something he craves in his side.

While attacking forays were curbed in 2016, his energy and ability to make the hard yards winning dirty ball around the middle, as well as often providing the killer pass up front, would be a game-changing asset, especially with Donnchadh Walsh turning 33 this summer.

Mayo - Kevin McManamon

Sixty-six years is a long time and a lack of scoring power when it matters most has often been the common denominator to Mayo not reaching the promised land. And while Dublin powerhouse McManamon is not a prolific scorer, he knows when to deliver his best.

McManamon possesses the ruthlessness which Mayo have lacked in clutch situations and his direct running style would open scoring avenues for himself, as well as other potent attackers like Cillian O'Connor.

Tyrone - Bryan Sheehan

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Donegal's Ryan McHugh. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Donegal's Ryan McHugh. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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Donegal's Ryan McHugh. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Time after time Tyrone's inability to convert long-range frees has cost them dearly in crunch situations and the experiment of goalkeeper Niall Morgan moving up the pitch to hit 45s has not worked as Mickey Harte would have desired.

Former Kerry captain Sheehan, who often struggles to make the Kingdom 15, is unerring from dead balls and could potentially add two or three points to every match total, as well as displaying a unique ability to kick points over a blanket defence.

Donegal - Gary Brennan

Rory Kavanagh and Christy Toye's retirements, Odhrán Mac Niallais' departure and fitness doubts over Neil Gallagher have left gaping holes at midfield, and Brennan, Clare's heartbeat, would be a ready-made replacement.

Rory Gallagher's side have a solid defence and plenty of attacking threats but with Michael Murphy forced to forage out the field rather than closer to goal, they lose their X-factor.

Brennan, spoken of as a modern Darragh Ó Sé, would offer athleticism, natural fielding and raw footballing ability in that crucial sector.

Cork - Lee Keegan

Graham Canty was the rock of Cork's defence for their 2010 All-Ireland triumph and his retirement left a hole which has been problematic to fill but the energy and enthusiasm of Mayo's Keegan, as well as his undoubted class, would almost plug an abyss.

The 2016 Footballer of the Year offers versatility, man-marking ability across many positions, leads by example and perhaps most importantly, plays the game on the edge and would offer steel to a backline ripped to shreds by Donegal's Patrick McBrearty in last year's qualifier defeat.

Roscommon - Ryan McHugh

With key personnel missing for 2017 challenging times may await for Kevin McStay as he goes it alone at the Rossies helm but having someone like the dynamic McHugh would make him feel anything is possible.

Small in stature players like the Donegal ace don't normally survive in the modern game but his class and boundless energy mark him out as one of the most valuable players on the fantasy market.

Meath - Michael Quinlivan

Andy McEntee faces a tough task to bridge the Dublin gap without a marquee forward and Tipp's Quinlivan would offer an ideal focal point at the edge of the square with his excellent fielding ability and keen eye for the posts, particularly important goals.

The Premier free-taker offers options further out the field, where the Royals have often come up second best, and the outstanding leader is exactly the type of player that a team could be built around for years to come.

Galway - Jonny Cooper

With the ever-changing nature of the game, defensive flexibility across a range of positions is essential and when Rory O'Carroll departed Dublin's squad, Jim Gavin showed no sign of panic and placed his faith in Cooper, who repaid him in spades with a string of outstanding displays at No 3.

Kevin Walsh's defence was torn apart against Tipperary in last year's shock quarter-final defeat and someone of Cooper's ilk offers stability from two to seven with a beautiful grace in possession and energy to bomb forward at pace.

Irish Independent