Free spirit Rock won't let Dublin down - Vaughan
Former Dublin ace Mark Vaughan believes Dean Rock will give the perfect response to his critics if selected for Sunday's footballer decider with old rivals Kerry.
Rock was off target with some placed balls in both the drawn and replayed semi-finals and the performances of his replacement Kevin McManamon, who shot 1-1 on both occasions, has left Jim Gavin with selection headaches.
Vaughan, a former dead ball specialist himself, jumped to the defence of the under-fire free-taker and expects the Ballymun Kickhams attacker to deliver in spades if the opportunity arises.
"Dean has been one of the best free-takers around, I wouldn't see an issue with him there at all but it's fairly fickle when you're taking frees. He's probably been Dublin's most consistent free-taker in the last 18 months," he said.
"What people forget is that he's probably one of Dublin's highest scorers from play this year. But I was similar in that regard.
"You're kind of carrying a free-taker and everyone thinks he's just there to hit frees and if he's not hitting them well, then he shouldn't be in there. I'm sure he'll bounce back the next day."
The former bleach blond forward can relate to Rock's present situation and acknowledges that the mainstream attention which is placed on the Boys in Blue can prove testing when form deserts you.
"You're pretty well recognised around the place so if you are going through a bad phase you will get reminded of it. It's demanding, people forget lads are giving up 30-40 hours a week for this," Vaughan noted.
"And you know yourself when you're going through a bad patch, you don't need lads telling you. I probably got a bit more bad attention because of the hair too."
After coasting through Leinster and dominating Fermanagh in the quarter-final, Gavin's side were left gasping for air having squandered a seven-point lead to Mayo in the drawn semi-final.
No mistake was made six days later, however, and Vaughan expects Dublin to be in peak condition as they chase their third Sam Maguire in five years against football's aristocrats.
"I probably would have fancied Kerry but the second game with Mayo is a massive benefit to them. The problem is the way Leinster is gone, it's so uncompetitive and it's an issue for Dublin," he said.
"I think Dublin have the edge now after two competitive games in a row and they've got to look at their full squad. Their bench has really produced in the last two games.
"Usually the way Dublin and Kerry play, the team that plays the best football wins. Both teams will go out and try to outscore the other and it's a joy to watch that kind of football. I'm pretty happy to see it overtake the defensive system."