Monday 23 April 2018

Dublin can be heaven if they stick to their DNA

If Meath are beaten today there will be questions to answer, writes Páidí ó Sé

I've been looking forward to seeing Dublin in championship action since the league ended because I'm curious to see how they will recover from the defeat they suffered to Cork in the final and the knock-on effect -- if any -- of the Dublin hurlers succeeding where they failed.

All last week I've been reading about comparisons between Dublin and some of the greatest teams in the world, but I think they should just ignore the hype and play football like the great Dublin teams have done in the past. If they do that, it will all fall into place for them.

But in saying that Laois are in a good position because there is no pressure on them. The bookies have installed Dublin as 1/5 favourites so they are in the perfect position to go in for the kill. Laois didn't play out of their skins against Longford, to put it mildly, yet they still have a championship win under their belts. As I said last week, it's good to get that first game over and done with and come away with a result -- even if they were a little lucky. (On that theme, it'll be interesting to see what Mayo do the next day after last Sunday's escape act in London.)

I think the managers of Meath and Kildare will have a bigger influence on the outcome of the game than you might usually expect. There is often a lot of raiméis written about managers and their impact on the modern game. Sometimes people seem to forget that the majority of games are won by the players on the pitch, with the help of astuteness on the line. Today, though, is one of those days when managers have a bigger than usual role.

Kieran McGeeney is left with some gaping holes in his side because of the absence of Daryl Flynn and Dermot Earley. Against Wicklow, he was forced to bring Johnny Doyle into the centre of the field, leaving himself short up front. The number of wides kicked by Kildare shows just how valuable and important Doyle is as a forward. Meath will be fired up so McGeeney will need to cover up these cracks and gain a tactical advantage if he wants to progress.

For obvious reasons, there is a lot at stake for Seamus McEnaney today. He needs to box cleverly and using Graham Geraghty correctly will be vital to the outcome.

Over the years I've seen a lot of familiar faces come and go in Kerry teams. In 1967, Jackie Lyne, an uncle of Pat Spillane, took over the Kerry team and brought back Mick O'Dwyer, Seamus Murphy and Mick O'Connell. They went on to win a few All-Irelands before they retired for the second time. A few years later, Mick O'Connell made another comeback but it didn't bear the same fruits -- in fact I think making another return was bad judgement on his part.

Donie O'Sullivan was the only player from the 1974 team who hung on for another year. We won the All-Ireland in 1975 with the youngest Kerry team ever and O'Sullivan played a vital role. He invested his energies very wisely; he basically hung in there in an advisory capacity to the younger players. He was an invaluable help to me in the 1975 final, advising me on how to mark David Hickey.

In Ogie Moran's term as manager he convinced the Bomber Liston to make a return. At this stage in his career the Bomber had done it all. I don't think he wanted to come back to win another All-Ireland, I think he came back to lend a bit of leadership and spirit and he achieved that.

Is it only a success story if you come back and win an All-Ireland or is it a success story if you come back and have a good effect on the people around you like the Bomber did. Graham Geraghty being back opens up a lot of possibilities and options for Meath and for Banty but if things don't go well today there will be a lot of questions asked about the decisions made in Meath.

It's Kildare and Dublin for me today.

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