Matt Treacy from Brocaire Books surveys the Dublin senior GAA team.
Had Meath not beaten Dublin in 2010, Dublin would have won 13 Leinster championships in a row last Sunday. As it happened they accomplished a record seven in succession. Thus outbidding the great Dublin team of the 1970s who won six between 1974 and 1979.
It was only the latest of records to fall to Jim Gavin’s team. The big one of course will be to attempt to win the All Ireland again in September, to make a three in a row and five out of the last seven. Their place as the greatest Dublin team of all time is generally accepted as secure. If they win this year, then they will have earned their place as at least the equal of the Kerry team of the 1970s and 80s.
Some suspected that they were becoming a tad predictable. Three draws in the league, and a narrow defeat by Kerry in the league final when bidding for a fifth consecutive title, seemed to indicate that other teams had their card marked.
That appeared to be confirmed in a dogged enough win over Carlow in the Leinster final, which ended comfortably, but was a lot more fraught than it ought to have been. The basketball tactic of bringing the ball to the rim and waiting for openings was being duplicated and to some extent neutralised.
But Jim Gavin is not one to sit back and wait for things to happen. Dublin annihilated Westmeath, to the tune of 31 points, by reverting to a much more open style which Westmeath were unable to cope with. The opening ten minutes of the final against Kildare were similar. Dublin were nine points ahead after two sublime early goals and the match was over.
Arguably they took their foot somewhat off the pedal after that but the gap remained 9 at the end. Kildare did score 1 – 17 which is more than most teams have managed against Dublin in the past seven years, but it was not sufficient. Dublin appear to have re-adopted the pre 2014 view that no matter what the other team can put on the scoreboard, we can better it. Someone once described Barcelona in their classic days as embodying the attitude that if you score three, we’ll score four or five, or six.
It is arguably a dangerous gambit as they enter the final phase of the championship. It is difficult to imagine any of the likely quarter final opponents chinning them, but after that it will be most likely Tyrone and that will be a challenge. Kerry then are the most probable final opponents if that hurdle is crossed.
The peril facing Dublin if they go toe to toe with Tyrone is that if they fall behind then there are no better men to hold onto a lead. You may be certain that the man from Ballygawley has been pondering a meeting with the Dubs for quite some time. Apart from the 2011 quarter final, which Dublin won by 7 points, there has not been much between them in subsequent league encounters including the 2013 league final, and Tyrone were the last team before Kerry in this year’s league final to actually beat Dublin.
So, it is by no means a fait accompli. If Dublin do win again this year it is likely to have been the most hard fought of all. One thing is for certain. They will not go down without a fight.