Dominance Of Dubs Can’t Be Denied.
IT WAS nice to get home on Sunday night to catch the end of the PGA Golf and see Rory win his fourth major. Having spent the previous seven or eight hours in the RTé studios in the company of Joe Brolly, the contrast of a silent living room was very different indeed.
Spending any time in the company of Brolly means that you are guaranteed to be kept entertained through his eloquent delivery of differing strong opinions on football and life in general.
However, the amount of energy he invests into his vocal chords means that at times it’s like been in that episode of Fr Ted where he has to spend the weekend in a caravan with Fr Noel Furlong – aka Graham Norton! Am sure you can catch my drift!
Anyway, there were some moments when he took breaks from the GAA to teach himself how to be become fluent in the French language, and during these moments of silence I managed to gather my thoughts for the upcoming analysis on The Sunday Game that night.
When it came the reviewing the Dublin game against Monaghan, Brolly hit the cruise-control button and began waxing lyrical about this current Dublin team.
For once, it was hard to disagree with him as he articulately described the current offering of this Dublin team.
To paraphrase him, he described Dublin as the “perfect storm”. “A team of fourteen sprinters, all so powerful with a beautiful system of play”. An “adventurous team” that played with “great enjoyment and vigour …. the golden years were in the offing”.
Brolly was right on the money and his analysis meant I could not have been accused of being biased to my native team.
Yes, Jim Gavin has built a flawless empire and he now has his team performing at a different level to any one of their main competitors. Dublin are now so good at what they do, some supporters are beginning to get bored with the ease in which they steam roll their opponents.
As one supporter put to me outside Croker on Saturday, “ah Whelo, it was much better craic a few years ago when the likes of Louth could nearly beat yiz.”
“We used to give it a good aul’ rip when yiz won by a point or two. It’s all too easy now,” he quipped.
All the joking aside, there is not one supporter who would change anything about this team and we are possibly beginning to see the development of the best Dublin team in the history of the game.
What has been most impressive is how this team has evolved under the guidance of Gavin over his two-year tenure in charge.
Whilst many of the plaudits have been given to the talented forwards at Gavin’s disposal, it is in defence where this team looks a lot more resilient this year.
There was always a feeling that Dublin were potentially exposed at the back if they left too much in front of their full-back line.
The middle eight are now working fluently between both half-back lines with Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly dropping deep to assist when needed, and that has added further to the core strength of the team.
Individually, though, in defence Dublin have some special talent within their ranks that sometimes does not get the same attention of the high-scoring forwards.
James McCarthy is having his best season in a Dublin shirt and looks to be improving all the time. He is a machine who will either run through or over his opponent, eating up the ground at speed. He now carries an aura that will strike fear into any future opponent.
Beside him, Johnny Cooper is an intelligent footballer with a great engine to match, and has been Dublin’s most consistent performer right throughout this year’s league and championship. I remember watching Cooper in Parnell Park playing for the Dublin minor team against Meath as an attacking wing back and it was obvious he had a big future role to play with the Dubs.
Rory O’Carroll is the heartbeat of the Dublin defence who holds all the pieces of the jigsaw together. The way he courageously defends a few yards in front of his direct opponent is a lesson in itself to any young player. He trusts his own ability to get back if an inch-perfect ball is put over the top but it also means he is dictating the terms of his one-on-one battle.
All in all, Dublin are in a very good place.
Donegal are next on the agenda and that represents a different challenge in the weeks ahead.
For now it’s a weekend off from the football championship.