The Kerry team of 1931/32 stand as the last outfit to achieve the league and championship double in successive seasons and Dublin’s league final hammering of Derry added significant weight to the credence that Jim Gavin’s men have moved out of sight from their closest rivals.
Rock, however, doesn’t buy into the argument that Dublin now wear the tag of untouchables.
“The league is only one part,” he stressed. “You see Cork in recent years, they won three league titles and only one All-Ireland after that. They probably lost a few more than they won. The excellent thing from a Dublin perspective is that no one is guaranteed their place.
“Dublin are performing very well at the moment, but Cork came out in the first half of the league semi-final and blitzed them. It looked like they were going to win, win well. Dublin came out then and got the run on Cork and ended up beating them very well. It just goes to show you.”
That first-half performance from the Rebels — in which they established a 2-9 to 0-7 interval advantage and effectively outfought the reigning champions in almost every sector — impressed Rock hugely.
And with Kerry in rebuilding mode, he said Cork now sit as the pretenders to Dublin’s throne.
“I don’t know how much of a setback it was in the semi-final for Cork. They will be there though.
“I’d still believe that Mayo will be there and are a good, solid team. Kerry even without the Gooch have looked good at times when they had to win matches.”
Up north, Rock insists Derry, Monaghan and Tyrone must all be considered, but excludes JimMcGuinness’s Donegal.
“I was disappointed with them last Sunday. They looked good and then all of a sudden went flat. Colm McFadden and Paddy McBrearty for the good footballers that they are, they seem to be stuck on their left foot. They don’t seem to kick with any other foot. I think Donegal really need everything going well for them to win it.”
Barney’s son Dean was a prominent figure off the bench in Dublin’s run to glory last summer, but a knee injury incurred during Ballymun’s county final clash with St Vincent’s has sidelined the capable half-forward for the better part of six months. He’d an operation there in December and he’s been back training for the last three weeks.
He hopes to be playing for Ballymun at some stage in the next two weeks. That’ll give him a start.
“For him it is disappointing because he would have wanted to kick on. The opportunities have gone to other lads who have come in and taken them. But at least he has a chance to perform in the championship.
“When you look at Kevin O’Brien and Ciarán Kilkenny, they’re out for the year. At least Dean has a chance to get back in to the panel.”