Retired Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh can see Dublin make a procession to the five in a row
Jim Gavin and the Dublin Senior Footballers won’t look a minute past this Sunday’s Leinster Final clash with Meath. It will be their 63rd Championship encounter in a long storied rivalry. A rivalry that’s laid dormant for a number of years.
For Dublin it’s the chance to capture their ninth successive provincial crown, their 58th in total. Meath are the last team to win the Delaney Cup in 2010. And it’s an opportunity to build on what’s been their best season in many years.
While the Leinster title is something the Dublin footballers hold with great regard, despite their dominance this decade, the bigger prize is still the focus of many stories and articles. And in recent weeks we’ve seen three of last year’s Semi Finalists all undone in their own provincial competitions. Which doesn’t bode well for many of Dublin’s supposed contenders for Sam Maguire.
Last weekend Galway were silenced by Roscommon. Monaghan never got past the Quarter Finals in the Ulster Championship. While the Semi Finals were the best finish for last year’s All Ireland Finalists Tyrone. Add to that Mayo’s exit from Connacht in the last four, it again has been an interesting championship to date.
Dublin head into this Sunday’s Leinster decider the clear favourites and should they emerge the victors they’ll enter the All Ireland Super 8’s alongside Roscommon and two other qualifying teams. But right now it’s hard to see where the competition will come from.
Tyrone legend backs Dublin’s drive for five
Back in 2017, when Tyrone star Sean Cavanagh announced his retirement, he predicted that Dublin could be the first team in history to complete the five in a row. Fast forward two years and Dublin are on the cusp of re-writing the history books once again. They’ve completed the first four successive All Ireland since Kerry in 1981. And Cavanagh stands firm on his prediction.
“it’s still hard to see how someone can beat Dublin and that’s just too predictable for my liking.” Cavanagh told The Herald.
“My whole mindset around Dublin hasn’t changed. Jim Gavin just blows me away.”
“From the outside looking in, it just looks like no matter if there’s any weakness there at all, Jim has it covered.”
Find the weakness and plug the gap
Sean went on to heap more praise on the Dublin manager. How he deals with his personal life and the military precision and strategy that goes into Gavin ethic. And his knack of strengthening any weakness that may become visible in Dublin’s armour.
“Everyone realised that the only weakness was probably there in the full-back line. Now you see Rory O’Carroll land back in!”
“I’ve marked him a couple of times myself, and what a tough defender he is to play against. He attacks every ball, he’s got that aggression and he can play football as well.”
So who can step up to the plate and stop Dublin from retaining the Championship?
“I think Kerry, on paper, are probably the only team at the moment that I feel could score enough to take them down.” he admitted.
“But you’re absolutely reliant on Dublin not scoring more at the other end. If Kerry can get that forward unit moving, they’ll definitely do damage.”
“It’s going to take a phenomenal performance to take them down, I’ve never thought they’re unbeatable – I don’t think any team in any sport is unbeatable.”
Can other provincial giants still claw back from defeat?
In terms of the teams that are normally challenging, but have taken knocks, Cavanagh doesn’t see it as a failure by any stretch as there’s still plenty of football to be played.
“Look, sometimes faltering early is not a bad thing either. If you’re in Mayo’s camp or Galway’s camp or Tyrone’s camp at the minute, you’re saying Yeah, we mucked up in our provincials but there’s a bigger piece of the jigsaw to be played here.”
“The reality is that Dublin are not going to get caught in the Super 8s. You’re hoping that somebody – one of those, a Tyrone or Mayo or Galway or Kerry – is going to be strong come the semi-finals or the final and that’s where you’re hoping that they’re going to put up a challenge to Dublin.”