Paul Flynn backs Dublin's new cubs to make senior grade in defence of Sam Maguire
DUBLIN'S All-Ireland U-21 win was exactly what the Dubs needed as they prepare to kick-off the defence of Sam Maguire next month, according to Paul Flynn.
The reigning All-Ireland champions face either Louth or Westmeath at Croke Park on June 3 and, with another batch of All-Ireland winners waiting in the wings, Flynn knows the current panel can't take their squad place for granted
"There's some really good footballers there who I'm sure will make the step up," Flynn asserted. "I'm not sure who but you could pick a bunch of them. There's some excellent footballers there."
Despite the physical demands of senior inter-county football, the Fingallians man believes some of Jim Gavin's squad are ready to be parachuted straight into the senior set-up as the capital side look to secure back-to-back All-Ireland titles for the first time since 1923.
Teenage sensation Ciaran Kilkenny has been heavily tipped for a call up to the senior squad when he completes his Leaving Cert next month, while Jack McCaffrey and Emmet O Conghaile, who were both minors last year, could also be involved. Gary Sweeney, who also played in the successful U-21 team of 2010, team captain Kevin O'Brien and Paul Hudson, who kicked 1-4 in the final, are also believed to be in the frame.
"By the looks of those lads, they don't look too small. They've obviously been doing a bit of work in the gym. Our strength and conditioning coach works with them as well so that's obviously a bonus to them that they're doing some of the programmes we're doing.
"Watching them, they look like they play a similar enough kind of style to us. They've all got tremendous work rate and seem very comfortable on the ball. It all depends on the individuals themselves, what kind of attitude they come in with. If they come in with the right attitude, they can keep going up and up... it's just a matter of whether they come in with the right attitude."
As reigning All-Ireland champions at senior and U-21 level and beaten minor finalists, Dublin football looks to be in rude health.
However, such is the depth of quality in their squad, Dublin have been slow to promote underage players. From the side that won the 2010 U-21 crown, only Rory O'Carroll and James McCarthy can claim to be regular starters for Pat Gilroy's senior team and there was no crossover between this year's U-21 side and the senior squad. Sunday's beaten finalists Roscommon had nine players working with both squads.
The last time Dublin entered the summer as All-Ireland champions, their championship lasted just one game as they were dismissed by Meath.
And Flynn agrees that the Dubs will need fresh impetus if they are to defend the All-Ireland title they won in such dramatic fashion last September.
"When you look back over the last 40 years, only a handful of teams have been able to win All-Irelands back to back so there's that kind of pressure. But if you think about things like that too much it can play on your mind so the way you have to think about it is, first of all, take the first games of the Leinster championship, try to go in through the front door, do the best we can there.
"I think the U-21s could (bring something different). I think there's also some other lads that have come into the panel this year that are new and fresh, the likes of Johnny Cooper that weren't there last year. Paddy Andrews is another lad. These lads are coming in there fresh, with a massive hunger that's instilled throughout the panel."