Dynamic Dublin continue to impress
By Cian O'Connell
It has been an era of Dublin success and silverware with Niall Moyna recalling a conversation with another former selector David Hickey, who sensed something was stirring in the capital under a decade ago.
Just as Dublin were beginning to re-emerge as serious All Ireland contenders under Pat Gilroy, Moyna remembers talking to Hickey on the morning of an Allianz League game against Tyrone eight years ago.
"The morning we played Tyrone, we relegated them and we got to the semi-final, we went for a walk that morning, and David Hickey’s exact words were, ‘I think this is going to become the greatest Gaelic football team of all time,’ and my reply to David was, ‘I’ll be happy with one All-Ireland David.’
“So, he saw it. He said, ‘these guys have the potential to become the greatest Gaelic football teams of all time."
Hickey had the vision to spot what Gilroy was establishing with Jim Gavin arriving to maintain that level of excellence. What exactly did Hickey see to have such belief and conviction about an emerging generation of footballers? "Who he had," Moyna responds. "They were a unique set of guys.
“They were unique. They were all leaders and Pat and Mickey (Whelan) instilled that leadership quality in them and they have taken it through.
“With Jim, I was just saying to Mickey Whelan yesterday, and the great thing that Jim has done and managers find it very hard, maybe because Dublin have the population, but he has transformed the team.
“If you look at it, every year, there is one or two new players, and all of a sudden it’s a whole new team. So, it’s not like the Kerry team of the 80s, they are not falling away, they are staying.
“The are going to be around for the next 10 or 15 years. Whether they can play at the same level they are at now, another team will come and challenge them, it will be interesting to see - and we need it.”
Will any team be able to deny Dublin a fifth All Ireland on the spin in 2019? “No, I can’t see anyone beating them," is Moyna's verdict. "Mayo are in transition I think Kerry are a year or two away, and there is guarantee that talented minors will come all the way through.
“I think they are at least a year if not 18 months away. It’s going to take a really exceptional performance from an exceptional team to beat Dublin this year."
Moyna is adamant about Bryan Cullan's influential role in the Dublin set-up believing that there isn't too much of a difference conditioning wise to the panel compared to when the DCU professor was last involved as a selector back in 2012.
"I spoke to Bryan Cullen recently and he said they are probably training less. You know yourself it’s the recovery. You do the hard work. There’s a certain perception among counties that unless you are coming in and you are throwing up and you are absolutely fatigued them it’s not a good session.
“I mean, that should only happen probably once a week where you come in and you are absolutely - I mean if you do a track session twice a week, that’s how often you really max it out.
“So, I think, Bryan, it was very, very smart employing Bryan, particularly having worked with Leinster rugby.
“Bryan came in and instead of doing more he has actually done - like a lot of counties a lot of guys do a lot of their own work, but in collective training Dublin don’t train any harder than anyone else.
“Do they have exceptionally gifted talented kids playing football, who are exceptionally athletic - they probably do. But, he has maximised that, but I don’t think it is because they are training harder."
Moyna stresses the importance of recovery in sport. “Well, not just for Dublin, but for any team," Moyna says. "So, I want to dispel the rumour that Dublin train harder, that’s why they are more athletically developed.
“They are doing this now since...when Pat took over there was a seismic shift. It wasn’t you go and do your session. The session was actually monitored. So, the sessions actually got shorter because they were monitored and they were doing what they were supposed to do, rather than hanging around the gym for two hours.
“They were in the gym for 30 minutes and they were doing what they were supposed to do. That’s smart training, and I think we need to do an awful lot more of that in the GAA.
“I mean, you look at the recent report, the hours a week that’s spent. I mean does a player have to travel to Donegal and Carlow in the middle of the week in rush hour traffic. I mean these are small changes. We have to think about different ways."