James Horan: Teams are getting closer and closer to Dublin

Former Mayo manager reflects on the Allianz Football League final against Kerry with Mike Quirke

BY Raf Diallo 19:51 Monday 10 April 2017, 19:51 10 Apr 2017

Kerry’s Jonathan Lyne and Donnchadh Walsh tackle Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin that resulted in a a black card for Jonathan Lyne ©INPHO/James Crombie

Former Mayo manager James Horan believes other teams are getting "closer and closer" to Dublin.

The reigning All Ireland champions narrowly lost to Kerry in the Allianz Football League final and were also held to draws by the Kingdom, Tyrone and Donegal during the campaign, while Monaghan also ran them very close.

While Horan still reckons the Dubs remain the team to beat, he noted a few changes on Off The Ball

"I suppose, looking at Dublin, they're definitely not as threatening as they've been over the last couple of years," he said.

"I don't think there's that energy - and I referenced that the last few times I spoke on the show - even in the All Ireland final last year. I thought Mayo had the physical run on them last year but Dublin were just such good players and so experienced that they got it through.

"But I don't think physically that they have that energy and that driving on has been there that's been there in other years.

"Kerry physically yesterday, their backs in particular, they tracked every run and they were up for it and capable of doing it. And if you think of games over the last number of years, Dublin have just stormed through on teams and they have been able to deal with their physical conditioning. 

"Teams are getting closer and closer and that Dublin team is ageing a little bit."

Horan added he is "not sure who is new that is going to break in" to the Dublin squad as an emerging new talent.

The issue of physicality against Dublin was one that had bubbled up a few weeks ago after Kerry and Dublin met in the league in Killarney and ahead of the final at Croke Park, Fitzmaurice had claimed that "there's a complete lack of balance" towards his players on the issue.

But has Dublin's ability to play on the edge, like any successful side, to supplement their skills on the ball not been widely noted by the media?

Ex-Kerry footballer Mike Quirke was also on Off The Ball and said: "I think Jim Gavin has done a really, really good job of portraying an image where they've taken over from Kerry as the purists, that they only want to play the game the right way with attacking football. He has portrayed an image really successfully now of Dublin being the anti-blanket defence, anti-negative football and 'we're the guys trying to hold up the moral values of the game' and there's a bit of that in it where he's done a great job of displaying them as that."

Quirke also added that Fitzmaurice has also done well to unearth some exciting new players in the white heat of battle.

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