Dublin Had Suddenly Gone From The ’Untouchables’ To The Obtainables For Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Galway
If the late great Freddy Mercury was still with us today and looking to rewrite the lyrics of the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody then he might have found some lyrical inspiration from the narrative that surrounded Dublin after the end of the Allianz League.
Following three league defeats for Jim Gavin’s team and a non appearance in the final for the first time since 2012 all the discussion in the media was that the Dubs were on the wane and the best of the rest had closed the gap.
According to these scribes and expert pundits over the winter and spring months that sly b*****d Father Time had caught up with some members of the Dubs squad and players like Stephen Cluxton, Philly McMahon, James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons, Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh Macauley and Kevin McManamon were now past their best and ready for the championship scrapheap.
Last seasons championship was described as nothing more than a procession to Dublin’s inevitable coronation as champions with no one able to lay a glove on the Dubs.
Yet in the space of a few short months Dublin had suddenly gone from the ’Untouchables’ to the obtainables for Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Galway with one of that quartet being tipped to take the Dubs All Ireland crown.
But sports media is a fickle place where predictions and opinions change quicker than the weather, those same journalists/pundits who were penning those premature Dublin obituaries just over a month ago are now waxing lyrical once more about the Sky Blues and the view now is the Dubs are again favorites to reach the promised land and claim a history making fifth All Ireland crown in a row.
Dublin‘s dominance of the All Ireland scene hasn’t sat well with some, which maybe was the reason for the sudden rush to irrationally acclaim a Dublin demise based on a couple of below par performances in the spring or possibly it was just a wishful hope that disappeared when rational thinking sunk back in over the last few weeks.
The Dublin squad, management and supporters won’t take any notice of whats being said in the media one way or the other, but it is interesting to see such a swing in opinions about Dublin in just a few short weeks.
When looking at Dublin’s league performances you have to ask just how far along Gavin’s side were in terms of their fitness program during the campaign and where on the list of priorities the league actually was for the Dublin management and squad before jumping to conclusions.
This year Dublin returned to pre-season training later than they had in previous seasons under Gavin, that left the players well behind in terms of fitness and sharpness compared to their opponents some of whom had been back training before Christmas. In certain games Dublin also appeared heavy legged possibly indicating they were still only in the early stages of their fitness programme.
During the seven rounds of the league Jim Gavin used in the region of 38 players as he ran the rule over some new faces and gave others some much needed game time in their legs. The constant change in personnel from game to game would certainly explain the lack of continuity and fluidity in Dublin’s play.
It was also noticeable how sparingly some players like Jack McCaffrey and Eoin Murchan were used during the league along with a number of other established players.
That begs the question was the league ever a priority for Dublin this season? If you take the high number of players used in the campaign and Gavin admitting that his side did no work at all in regards to the new experimental rules, it certainly looks from the outside that it wasn’t and minds were focused towards the championship.
That might be viewed as a dangerous ploy and maybe it is, but there were certainly some benefits to the seemingly less focused approach to the league and not just in giving new players valuable game time.
One welcome benefit is the below par performances and three defeats dampened down the hype machine for a couple of weeks at least and media attention switched to Dublin’s main rivals Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Galway.
But it now seems that confidence in one of that quartet to bring ’A Kind Of Magic’ this summer and stop the drive for five has subsided somewhat.
Maybe the news that Rory O’Carroll returned to the Dublin squad was one of the reason for the sudden turn around in opinions. Since the Kilmacud Crokes man left the panel to go traveling it was being stated that Dublin were vulnerable under the high ball and O’Carroll’s inclusion certainly would blow away that myth.
Also maybe the rumours that won’t go away that Diarmuid Connolly is about to return to the fold jolted those obituary writers back to their senses and made them change their tune.
Come September Queen maybe the playlist of choice for Dublin supporters as ’We Will Rock You’, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘We Are The Champions’ become the sounds of summer but we will have to wait and see how the championship pans out.