All-Ireland titles in 2017 and 2018 would confirm Dublin as greatest team of all time

By Peter McNamara

With three minutes of regulation-time remaining last Sunday at Croke Park, they were introducing Brian Howard in place of Brian Fenton.

Brian Howard. Not your run-of-the-mill squad player deserving of his moment in the sun, but Brian Howard, another likely superstar.

When Dublin can afford to nonchalantly blood operators of such potential with a seventh Leinster title in-a-row secured, what chance do the rest have? The reality is very, very little.

The likes of Tyrone and Kerry are going to do their damnedest to prevent it happening, however, Dublin will surely complete the All-Ireland title three-in-a-row this year.

In modern history, there is no team that has possessed the wealth of quality the Metropolitans are blessed with.

Yet, there is a possibility Jim Gavin’s side remain marginally underestimated.

Following on from their latest successful quest for silverware, highly-respected and informed journalists and commentators have attempted to punch holes in their arsenal.

Their defensive instability, albeit extremely intermittent, was illustrated again, for instance.

Proper order, too as the aforementioned Tyrone and Kerry could unravel their rearguard should the counties meet, without felling the giant, however.

Questions will be asked. But then, they will be answered. Emphatically. And then some.

However, even in searching for chinks, people are essentially giving Dublin backhanded compliments.

Sometimes, though, you can never give a unit enough straightforward compliments.

Dublin fall into this category. In terms of the greatest sports team seen, they are up there with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Gavin’s outfit are no better than odds of 5/4 to retain Sam Maguire this year yet, I would go as far to suggest earning a fourth All-Ireland title on the spin in 2018 is just as likely.

When you witness young Con O’Callaghan nailing 0-12 including six in open play, along with the cameo of Howard, you have to ask yourself, when will this dominance end?

Of course, we all know, at some point, that it will. However, that is not going to be any time soon and anybody that states otherwise would honestly want to wake up.

A lot of people out there, outside of the Pale, are not happy with Dublin’s new-found levels of professionalism.

This idea, for example, of the players having their meals delivered to their respective work or college locations is just all too much for the majority of traditionalists.

What people need to realise is they are not the only senior inter-county group with such privileges.

Yes, Dublin has over one-third of the country’s population to choose a ruthlessly competitive squad from.

However, nobody was calling for the county to be divided into two when they could not win a national raffle post-1995 and pre-Pat Gilroy’s tenure.

The obvious and key difference currently is that the Metropolitans are harnessing the numbers available to them much more efficiently.

Folk that still find reason to moan about it are being petty, frankly.

Opposing counties should use Dublin’s dominance as a motivation, not a tool to try and beat them with.

More understandable are the gripes people have with the depth of finance they receive through sponsorships.

And yet, firms such as AIG were not on the scene when the groundwork was being laid for their present success years ago.

Dublin have earned their position as the benchmark side these days.

Any team can have all of the support in the world, but the management and players still have to put shift after shift in away from the limelight to ensure those occasions with the bright lights do not go to waste.

It was interesting to hear Pat Spillane, on The Sunday Game, refer to this Dublin brigade as being one of the top three teams of all-time alongside his own majestic Kerry unit and the equally wonderful Dublin soldiers of the same era.

Of most interest, though, was that Spillane indicated Gavin’s army could go on to become the greatest team of all, thus surpassing the two they currently keep company with.

If Dublin do lift Sam Maguire in September and again next year, then that will be basically indisputable.

However, aside from Spillane’s musings, Dublin have not been coveted with the levels of praise they arguably deserve.

It’s a bit like when Lionel Messi produces a moment you have never seen before or are likely to again but because it’s Messi it’s almost subconsciously expected and, therefore, slightly underappreciated for the truly graceful passage of play it was.

Maybe, in years to come, we will all truly understand the magnitude of what Kilkenny, under Brian Cody, and Dublin have been achieving in the current climate.

We are coming to the end of an era with the Cats and the brilliance they displayed for so many seasons. Nevertheless, we are right in the midst of Dublin’s peak and sometimes there is no harm in sitting back and taking all of that in as a supporter of the code.

Ironically, and scarily for their forthcoming opponents, you often feel, despite said dominance, that there is more in the tank with Gavin’s group.

They are akin to a thoroughbred that wins Classic after Classic but that keeps a little back for themselves.

Mickey Harte and Éamonn Fitzmaurice will believe their respective teams can, not alone take Dublin off of the bridle, but land a knock-out punch to their All-Ireland ambitions.

Sport, especially nowadays, has a habit of throwing up unexpected outcomes, of course. However, is anybody brave enough to back against Dublin keeping both of those counties at arm’s length when it boils down to it?

They say there is a fine line between courage and foolishness. It is one thing to courageously proffer that Tyrone or Kerry will land Sam Maguire in September. It would be simply foolhardy to follow through with that thought-process and stake even a euro of your hard-earned on it actually transpiring.

The reality is Dublin are basically too good. Sometimes, it is just that simple.

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