Who are the teams most likely to get the measure of Dublin this season?
Three All-Ireland titles in five years - what is it going to take to derail the dominant Dubs?
In the 2015 season, All-Ireland finalists Kerry came closest to unlocking Jim Gavin's forces, losing by just three points in the end. Prior to that, Mayo took them to a draw in the semi-final, before capitulating in the second half of the replay.
Donegal staged a shocking upset against Dublin in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final under the masterful supervision of Jim McGuinness. And even though McGuinness has taken a break from management, he continues to come up with strategies that could be deployed against Dublin.
Speaking to the Irish Times, he advised:
"I think the team that is going to beat them will need a very good number 11. A number 11 that can get on the ball, dictate the pace, score individual points and make incisions, and he has to be marked."
"You got to pull (Cian O’Sullivan) out of position and then that guy has got to get the ball. If he gets the ball, he has got to have the capacity to do damage."
"If he is doing that on one level and then he picks up the next ball and fires a diagonal and you got two massive men in there with a Cillian O’Connor coming on the loop, then you got an aerial threat on the inside and a top-quality forward on the loop and you also got this number 11 that is dictating that space, and he is not there because he is being shifted left, right and out in front with runners coming off him."
Both McGuinness and James Horan agreed that the absence of Rory O'Carroll, could create a situation where bigger built forwards could have a strong 'aerial threat' this season and cited Kerry and Mayo as the teams most likely to be able to execute that.
But Horan also cautioned that Dublin are an ever evolving side who can adapt to any challenge presented to them:
“Maybe try that for 10 minutes but you are going to have to try a few different things because Dublin have evolved so much as a team they can adjust to what’s happening."