O'Gara: 'We don't know when we are beaten, that drives us'
FOR years, commentary on the Dublin footballers didn't get too far past their mental frailties.
In the last decade, Kerry and Tyrone found new ways to burst the bubble that built up around the Dubs after their latest slalom through Leinster.
But since their come-from-behind All-Ireland success against Kerry in 2011, Dublin have gone from strength to strength in that regard.
Their incredible comeback from ten points down with half an hour to play against Cork was the most spectacular example of a deeply ingrained belief that has underpinned their performances.
It came on the back of securing a draw with Mayo, despite being down to 14 men for most of the game, and Eoghan O'Gara agrees that winning their breakthrough All-Ireland in 2011 gave them a belief that was previously absent.
"There is great character and belief in the team," O'Gara said.
"In the last number of years, since we won the All-Ireland, that's something that we have had and produced.
"We produced it in a few games towards the end of the league. It gives us great confidence, that we have it in the bag when the chips are down and we go right to the end of a game and the final whistle. It's nice to know we have that.
"It's a great mix of older, experienced guys. Everybody on the squad nearly has an All-Ireland medal and the underage lads have numerous U-21 All-Irelands. There is great trust and belief there. And I think that's what you see in those games."
The Templeogue Synge Street man, who first came into the Dublin panel fresh from the junior side in 2008, has seen more league action than usual this term but despite his good form, he knows there is no guarantee he'll be in the starting team for the championship.
"There are probably 12 forwards there, at least two for every position. All over the park but particularly in the forwards it is frightening competition. You really don't know, you are waiting to be picked and if you are not picked you are getting yourself right to come on and make an impact from the line if called upon."
Derry turned the Dubs over when the sides met in Celtic Park in one of just three defeats the Dubs have tasted since the start of last year's league. And while they fielded a team shorn of a number of regulars that day, he expects Brian McIver's side to provide a stern examination.
"We never really got into the game in Derry. They were very effective. Trying to frustrate us and restrict our time on the ball. Mark Lynch is probably the form player for them in the country.
"He dictates things for them and they're experienced throughout. They seem to be really getting things right in this league. It's going to be a very difficult game on Sunday. Croke Park is a big pitch. That might change the game a small bit.
"But in terms of playing Derry, we know that if we play like we did against Cork this Sunday, it won't be good enough to beat them."