Thursday 14 December 2017

Whelan: Royals will punish Dubs' complacency

Dublin great Ciaran Whelan (right) attending the launch of the Bord Gais Energy Legends Tour alongside Tony Browne. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Dublin great Ciaran Whelan (right) attending the launch of the Bord Gais Energy Legends Tour alongside Tony Browne. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Former Dublin midfielder Ciaran Whelan has warned that if the Dubs don't get their mental attitude right for this Sunday's Leinster final, Meath, like they did last year, will cause them problems.

Dublin are bidding for a fourth Leinster title in a row but if there's one criticism that can be levelled at their recent period of dominance, it's that for such a powerful outfit their tendency to switch off for spells of games is sooner or later going to cost them wins.

"I think it's going to be an interesting dynamic because Dublin have to put an end to these spells of lacking in concentration for 10 to 15-minute periods in games where they are kind of going to sleep," Whelan said.

"They have to be ruthless from here on in in the championship."

Meath arrive in Croke Park for their third consecutive Leinster final but once again find a seemingly constantly improving Dublin side standing in their way of a first title since 2010.

"It is a difficult challenge but it's in Meath's psyche that they are capable. Given the fact that they ran them close last year, they will believe. But I think it's going to take Dublin to have an off day and Meath to perform to their highest ability for Meath to pull through."

Like everyone else, Whelan can only stand back and admire the standards that this current crop of Dublin players is continuously setting. The Raheny clubman has been on the other side of teams' dominance during his playing days and he can relate to Meath's mindset going into the decider.

"I think deep down in the psyche of inter-county players and maybe similar to us five or six years ago when we were playing dominant Tyrone or Kerry teams, no matter how much mental preparation we did, I think there was always this little voice in the back of your head saying 'these boys can just turn it on' and in the space of 15-20 minutes they can blitz you and it's game over," he said.

"You are on edge then in the game, worrying if that period is going to come and I think that is one of the fears that Meath will have.

"With the forward line this Dublin team have and with the strength in depth, particularly from 10 to 15, that if they get a purple patch it can be game over.

"For Meath to succeed I think they will have to be at the top of their game for 70-minutes and I don't know whether they have the strength in depth."

For all of Whelan's concerns over Meath's ability to handle the pace and intensity of Dublin's firepower, he admitted that they are capable of punishing any complacency that may creep into the Dubs' frame of mind.

"Dublin have been patchy at times in the Wexford and Laois games," he said. "They must be on their game from the start and not let Meath build any momentum."

A seven-point defeat to Dublin last year has the bookies offering odds as long as 14/1 for a Meath victory.

Despite Whelan envisaging a Dubs win, he is adamant that the most important thing for Meath is to prove that they have learned from past mistakes while Dublin still have questions to answer.

"It's how much Meath have learned from last year," he said. "And have Dublin improved? I think we'll see Meath trying to do a lot of what they did last year when they caused Dublin problems."

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