Dublin walking line between confidence and arrogance — June 2014

IT’S there on page one of ‘The Blue Wave’ report.

When the Dublin County Board published their strategic planning report in 2011, they looked for a quote to set the tone.

Eventually, they opted for two lines from the poem ‘Dublin Made Me’ by Donagh MacDonagh.

“But the Dublin of old statutes, this arrogant city;

Stirs proudly and secretly in my blood.”

Go back another three years to Paul Caffrey’s time as the Sky-Blues manager.

All of the players had been handed a motivational manual, known as ‘The Blue Book’.

One section bore the heading ‘Being a Dub’ — and consisted of a single line.

“We want to display some typical ‘Dublin Arrogance’. We want to proudce the performance to substantiate this arrogance.”

Arrogant city. Dublin arrogance. Former Armagh star Tony McEntee sees it as a problem, not as a virtue.

He managed Crossmaglen to All-Ireland glory and is now in charge of a club in the capital, St Brigid’s.

On the eve of the Championship, McEntee pinpointed in The Examiner what he sees as Dublin’s biggest problem as they try and hold on to Sam Maguire.

“There’s huge arrogance in that set-up, from winning an All-Ireland, and that creates blind spots,’’ he said.

In an interview with livegaelic.com last week, 1980s star Joe McNally added to the feeling that some in Dublin are getting carried away.

“The only team that can beat them is themselves. If they can keep their feet on the ground I can’t see anyone getting near them,’’ he said.

It was 10 years ago yesterday since Westmeath shocked the Dubs in a Leinster quarter-final.

Since then, Dublin have played 27 games in Leinster, winning 26 of them.

The only defeat came against Meath in 2010. Cian Ward scored 1–4 for the Royals that day and he feels that Meath have a different attitude against Dublin than many other Leinster teams.

“Without naming names, there are certain teams that you’d feel are beaten dockets before they enter the pitch,’’ he said.

“Maybe they just feel they’re not good enough to beat Dublin. Some of that can be down to past tradition and history repeating itself over and over.

“It’s a cliche to say that ‘Meath don’t fear Dublin, blah, blah, blah’ but that’s the truth, from the Meath players’ point of view.

“We were successful against Dublin at schools and under-age level so why would we have been afraid of them?

“At that time, we knew that if we kept the two Brogans reasonably quiet, we had a great chance.

“To be honest, I don’t think a whole lot has changed in that regard.”

Senan Connell was once the Brogans’ teacher and later a teammate with Dublin.

He is wary of the buzz around the Dubs. The bookies have them at evens to keep Sam — the hottest favourites in years.

“We have to dispel this notion that Dublin are going to waltz through the All-Ireland,’’ he said.

“It’s nearly got to the stage where people are expecting other teams to lie down when Dublin take them on in Croke Park.

“Every year, some team has put it up to Dublin in Leinster.

“There was only a point in it in the two All-Irelands that they won.

“The biggest games have been won by the smallest things — like Michael Darragh Macauley getting his fingertips to that ball late on against Kerry last year.

“So many teams have been studying Dublin, working out a plan to play them, dissecting Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs and so on.”

Mickey Whelan took on Dublin just after they’d won the 1995 All-Ireland but fell short the following summer.

He coached the Dubs to the 2011 title, and still had an involvement the following summer as Mayo ended their campaign in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Whelan feels Jim Gavin has his men in a good place.

“Complacency can be a problem, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem in this camp,’’ he said.

“The players and management are very experienced and will be conscious of facing up to the problems that will come up.

“They took a lot of the noise out of the way. Only two players would have been going around with the cup at a time, and it all stopped at Christmas.

“Then, they just got back down to tacks at training and were seriously switched on straightaway.

“These guys are very, very focused. They’re a humble group, actually, not an arrogant group.

“It wouldn’t be tolerated. If one guy was out of step, the management wouldn’t even have to do anything, his teammates would tell him to cop on.

“If any team can retain Sam, this team can.”

But ward isn’t so sure. And he feels Dublin could end up in the qualifiers at some stage.

“We always had the feeling in Meath that you wanted Dublin to have a really good League, hammer someone in the first round in Leinster, beat everyone pretty easily and, then maybe the edge would have gone off them when we’d play them,’’ he said.

“Then we’d get really stuck in and rattle them.

“You can shock a team if they don’t have the right mind-set for a battle.

“I think there’s a great opportunity, particularly in Leinster, for a team to catch Dublin.’’

Go back to ‘The Blue Wave’ report, and its main target was an All-Ireland every three years.

But that can be painted as confidence, rather than arrogance.

David Hickey was a selector under Pat Gilroy and is now the team doctor.

He has pointed out that Gilroy changed the culture of the team.

“The Dublin team used to be the Premiership experience in Ireland. Running to the Hill, kissing the badge after they scored some minor point. White boots. The cult of the individual — that’s all gone,’’ said Hickey.

Connell feels they won’t be losing the run of themselves.

“When you talk to the players, there’s a sense of belief — it’s definitely not a cockiness — but there’s a sort of confidence in them that they believe in everything that they do,’’ said Connell.

“They believe that any obstacle that is put in front of them is an opportunity for them to succeed.

“The Dublin players really are relishing the challenge of doing back-to-back All-Irelands.

“In interviews before Christmas, when players talk a lot more to the media, there were little nuggets from the likes of Macauley or Bernard Brogan along the lines of how they’d love to match the team of the 1970s and win three All-Irelands.

“Knowing Jim Gavin and having played with him, he’s a very careful, methodical guy and he’s not going to put out 15 players who are arrogant.

“There is confidence with these Dublin players, and they’re right to be confident.

“Have a look at what any of the players say in interviews. None of them say what they shouldn’t be saying.

“The mantra that is put forward is focusing on the next game, only thinking of Laois.

“Arrogance would be going ‘we’re going out to whip everybody and win the All-Ireland’.

“Dublin know that, if they take their eye off the ball, they’re going to be caught.

“The one thing that could catch Dublin out is if they felt they just had to turn up, but they know that.”

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