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Lack of competition in Leinster is not Dublin's fault - Rock

All-Ireland winner Barney Rock pictured at the launch of this year’s Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour Series at Croke Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
All-Ireland winner Barney Rock pictured at the launch of this year’s Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour Series at Croke Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

The Leinster Championship is a one-horse race with Dublin overwhelming favourites to claim their eighth title in succession, but Barney Rock won't have it said that the Dubs have ruined the province.

Big guns like Meath and Kildare fell by the wayside last weekend and the pieces look to have fallen into place for Jim Gavin's men to claim one of their easiest Leinster crowns, but Dublin legend Rock doesn't feel such dominance is their fault.

Speaking at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour Series at Croke Park, Rock outlined how other counties should strive to get their own house in order, much like the Dubs did when they hit a slump.

"When you consider the population between Meath and Kildare, they overwhelm the likes of Longford, Carlow and Laois (this year's semi-finalists along with Dublin). Realistically that's something that the Meath and Kildare county boards will have to look at, which way they're doing their development," Rock said.

"Back in the mid-noughties, we were getting beaten by all these teams: Meath, Kildare, Westmeath beat us, and those teams went on and won Leinster so Dublin have probably been going back that far working on it.

"It's only because we've been winning Leinsters (that there's a problem). People say Leinster is not competitive but when Dublin were getting beaten it was competitive. It's just Dublin have sort of steamrolled and moved forward."

Rock, father of forward star Dean, never envisaged a day when the Dubs would be this far ahead and chasing four All-Ireland titles in-a-row, but Dave Hickey (a selector under Pat Gilroy and team doctor under Gavin) was well aware of their extraordinary talent.

"I always remember one thing talking to John McCarthy (father of midfielder James), he was saying that David Hickey was involved and always saying it was a special bunch of players. He was saying that they were going to win five in-a-row.

"Hickey played in all those big matches under Heffo (Kevin Heffernan) and could see the talent in the group. We've probably been blessed a lot with the success at underage level. Dublin probably put more emphasis on the U-21s and what you do after minor."

One player unlikely to feature for the Dubs this year is Diarmuid Connolly, but Rock insists "they just have to move on" without his undoubted brilliance.

"The three or four things he did in the All-Ireland final here last year, not too many players will ever do. But it's like everything. Everybody moves on. And you have to accept it," said Rock.

"People will be saying 'Diarmuid should be back' but the lads are going out and performing well. The big test will be the Super 8s because Diarmuid had been very good, so it's a time maybe for new people to come through."

Irish Independent

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