Pat Spillane: Dublin are one of the greatest teams - but recently they've become conservative, careful and mechanical
Pat Spillane has hailed the four in-a-row chasing Dublin team as one of the greatest of all-time - but says that they have become an increasingly conservative outfit under Jim Gavin.
Dublin have undergone a tactical transformation since the swashbuckling football of Gavin's first season, with the defeat to Donegal in 2014 - the last time the team has been beaten in the championship - prompting a defensive rethink.
Cian O'Sullivan has since been used effectively as a sweeper, but 2018 has seen Dublin evolve further by implementing a patient, probing attacking style to work the ball into the scoring zone.
Spillane, who played on the Kerry team that was the last to claim four consecutive All-Ireland titles, says that this 'mechanical' approach is a far cry from the days where Dublin were blowing teams away in the early part of Gavin's reign.
Writing in the Sunday World today, the Kerry legend offered this assessment of the current Dublin team as they take on Tyrone in today's All-Ireland final.
"Today we will witness one of the greatest - maybe the greatest ever - teams in Gaelic football," Spillane said.
"Dublin are bidding to become only the fourth team to complete the four in-a-row in football. At times over the last four years they have played a brand of football which has reminded us why Gaelic football can be such a wonderful game.
"However, in more recent times their football has replicated the mindset of their manager Jim Gavin: they have become conservative, careful and mechanical in their play, particularly in the closing stages of games.
"They resemble a team playing with the handbrake engaged."