Murphy: Consistent Dubs are the front runners

Murphy: Consistent Dubs are the front runners
Michael Murphy

Donegal's All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy is quite comfortable admitting that Dublin are 'the team to beat' as the race for the Sam Maguire Cup hots up.

With July now upon us, the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers out of the way and the provincial final pairings decided, counties are jockeying for position with Leinster champions-elect Dublin now 15/8 favourites to be crowned All-Ireland champions come September.

Their four-goal hammering of Kildare at the weekend was undoubtedly the performance of the 2013 Football Championship to date and Donegal star Murphy was impressed by what he saw.

"I got to see the highlights and they were very impressive. You would have to have them up as the leading team, the standard bearers now this year," said Murphy, speaking as a brand ambassador for Irish sports nutritional brand Kinetica Sport.

"In fairness to them, they have been the most consistent team of the year. Everybody has seen that. You look at them and they are merging the attacking game with a fairly mean defensive game.

"They have both sides of the game ticked and without a doubt, they're the team to beat."

He added: "The highlights showed Dublin had a lot of goal chances and they have been doing that all year. Teams know that but they still can't stop them. As I said, that's the challenge for everyone."

WATCH: Dublin v Kildare highlights:

"That's the challenge for Meath now in the Leinster final," Murphy added.

"They will do their best to do it but it will be difficult for them.

"Jim Gavin has brought his own imprint on it. They have always played a fairly attacking brand of football and they are continuing that. There are different aspects that have changed.

"You have to say, on the evidence now, they are changing and evolving with the game. And they're up there for every team to knock off."

Wily Donegal manager Jim McGuinness will probably welcome Dublin's dominance of the column inches at present, as his own panel quietly prepare for their Ulster final clash with Monaghan on Sunday, July 21.

Winning a third successive Anglo Celt Cup is all that is on McGuinness' radar at the moment, and his skipper Murphy says facing a Monaghan side that battled past Cavan last Saturday night is a big challenge - particularly as the Farney men will have 'home advantage'.

"Monaghan, if you look at their team over the last few years, have been very consistent in their team selection. They have class all over the pitch and they're playing on their home turf in Clones.

"It's a big pitch and it's a big challenge for us. We are going to need to improve big time from our performance against Down (last time out) and put our best foot forward."

After their hard-fought 0-12 to 0-9 Ulster semi-final win over Down, McGuinness called for immediate improvements in his side's all-round play. Murphy believes the Tir Chonaill men are some way off their peak just yet - and rediscovering their goal-scoring touch would certainly help.

Murphy and company were unable to find the net against Down having scored two goals in their Championship opener against Tyrone in late May. It has been something of a failing for Donegal this season, as they only tallied up three goals in seven league matches earlier in the campaign.

"We need to improve on our defence, we need to improve on our attack, whether it's conceding less scores or scoring a bit more. We weren't really a goal threat the last day against Down," added the Glenswilly attacker.

"If you looked at Dublin, Mayo, Kerry and Cork, and even Kildare and Tyrone - they're threats in that way so that's an area we need to improve on.

"From the defensive side of things, we need to concede a bit less so that's probably the 10% improvement that Jim's speaking about and we're focused on. Those are the areas where we're going to try and find it."

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