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Nothing wrong with All-Ireland contenders that a few Dubs wouldn't cure

Colm O'Rourke


Dublin were not always great players, they made themselves that way by outworking their rivals

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Time and constant practice have helped the Dublin players to hone their skills and ultimately claim silverware and adopting a similar culture is the only option available to other counties if they are to improve from within. Photo: Sportsfile

Time and constant practice have helped the Dublin players to hone their skills and ultimately claim silverware and adopting a similar culture is the only option available to other counties if they are to improve from within. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Time and constant practice have helped the Dublin players to hone their skills and ultimately claim silverware and adopting a similar culture is the only option available to other counties if they are to improve from within. Photo: Sportsfile

The start of the League has been brilliant. And it will continue. We have seen big crowds and some wonderful matches in the first two rounds, all in benign conditions.

However, the weather God has other ideas for this today. Maybe the wild west wind and storms have come a few days too late for the Greens in the election, they could have done with howling gales and lashing rain to remind us that an unseen hand guides many of our worldly travels. Donald Trump does not agree - he thinks a few billion dollars would buy off any storm.

Anyway, between the gales in this small part of God's creation, Dublin cast a long shadow. Everything is compared to them.

If Kerry had a few defenders like Mick Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper or Philly McMahon they would be on the pig's back. They have the forwards, so they think anyway. With James O'Donoghue back in form to add to Seanie O'Shea and David Clifford there is the potential for 1-16 at least in every game. But the bucket is leaking water almost as quick as it is taking it on.

Galway seem different already. They were unfortunate to lose out to Kerry last weekend. It was a very enjoyable match between two teams who wanted to attack. Or just could not defend in the view of some others. If they had a midfielder like Brian Fenton then there would be no stopping them - someone to catch, solo, cover the field and score off left or right. Add Galway and Kerry to Dublin and it is apparent that playing attacking football is the winning formula.

Donegal are a bit of an enigma. They have some great forwards but still can't resist the urge to retreat en masse. If they had someone like Paul Mannion then there would be no need to blow the retreat bugle. He would tackle up the field, take the ball off the defence and let Jamie Brennan and Michael Murphy do the scoring.

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Con O'Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile

Con O'Callaghan. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

It would not take much to make Donegal a very serious team, they have the speed, mobility and most of all the size and ability. Yet they folded tamely against Mayo last season. Young players often think there is always next year, but winners think there is no next year.

Tyrone are playing a possession game based on mobility which is not there at the moment. The whole engine has slowed down. Maybe this is a ploy and they have taken a conscious decision to focus on the summer, but they were not good when beating Meath and just awful last Sunday against Monaghan.

They need a Brian Howard to provide mobility around the middle third, to slow the game down when necessary and then inject a dash of pace and open up the opposition defence. Tyrone's slow moving game could also do with Jack McCaffrey to inject raw speed from the back. There is none of that anymore in Tyrone.

Monaghan will not go quietly into the night. If Monaghan had Con O'Callaghan to stick a couple in the net on a regular basis they could patch up most other places. Maybe they could also do with a speedy back like David Byrne to take up the opposition dangerman. It is amazing what a couple of good men could do.

Mayo have decided that blooding young players is going to take precedence over survival. They are introducing four or five for this League and are obviously going to stick with them no matter what the cost.

Dublin are doing the same but Aaron Byrne, Liam Flatman, Dan O'Brien, Seán Bugler, Paddy Small, Conor McHugh and others are coming in on the backs of champions. If Pádraig O'Hora, Tommy Conroy, Oisín Mullen, James Carr and Jordan Flynn had the shoulders of Fenton, McCarthy, Kilkenny, Howard and a few others of substance to lean on then they would improve at a much faster rate.

Mayo need a goalkeeper, full-back and full-forward. Evan Comerford, Philly McMahon and Eoghan O'Gara please apply. Michael Daragh Macauley could go along for the fun. And it would be an eventful journey full of joy and heartbreak. Comerford is probably already the fourth or fifth best goalkeeper in the country, after Stephen Cluxton, Rory Beggan, Shane Patton, Niall Morgan and maybe Shane Ryan. Kevin McManamon could also be part of the voyage, back to his roots, and he would enjoy tormenting Connacht defences.

Meath are struggling and if they don't get a win today then the tickets can be booked for some of the exotic locations in the second division like Breffni Park and the road to Ennis. Meath need a Dean Rock, maybe even a Barney Rock. Dean Rock has scored 2-9 so far in two games, a total of 15 points, while Meath have a total of 19 points from their two outings. Rock rarely gets much credit and yet he is a phenomenal scoring machine who guarantees his team five or six points per game from frees and play - a star among some greater stars who rarely misses a free. In the old days a team was based on a good goalkeeper and a great freetaker. Some things don't change.

Meath could also do with James McCarthy and Ciarán Kilkenny. I'm getting greedy now, but here's two men who hoover up possession and get better as the game goes on. They do not shirk a battle but demand the ball when the game is at its most intense. Any county could build a complete team around these few. And we would take Eoin Murchan too, he knows the road to Navan very well. It is a bit unfair that Dublin have them all but they were not always great players. They made themselves that way.

Ultimately, every county has to look after their own and not covet their neighbour's wealth. Most county players outside the top few have severe limitations but it should be a case of the glass half-full approach. Every manager has to make their own players better. The best place to start is to make them more skilful. This depends on the attitude of players in terms of developing their own skills. It is time and constant practice.

Like Gary Player said, "the more I practice, the luckier I get." It goes for our game too. All these Dublin players have put in the hours to make themselves individually the best before they put it all into their team. They work harder than anyone and when I hear players complaining about the Dubs' assets I always think of their skills which were honed over a 1,000 hours. Every county can improve and get better from within. Unfortunately Dublin seem to take this more seriously than everyone else.

Sunday Indo Sport