Kelly’s Wee men were beaten 2-16 to 1-10 by Dublin’s development squad in the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup final, indicating that the Sky Blues have plenty in reserve to sustain their golden era.
But Kelly still questioned if the back-to-back All-Ireland champions have the individual players to take over from talents like Diarmuid Connolly, Bernard Brogan, and Stephen Cluxton.
The former Louth star acknowledged that Leinster football is “in a lull at the minute” but rejected the idea that Dublin will lord it over their neighbours indefinitely.
Kelly said: “It’s just at this minute in time the province is probably not at its strongest. It will come again, but for me it’s media driven. The media guys are getting the airtime on where Dublin are at the minute. Dublin are a serious operation, they are a serious outfit.
“(But) will they produce another Diarmuid Connolly? I don’t know. Will they produce another Bernard Brogan? I don’t know. Is Stephen Cluxton replaceable? All these questions, and when these guys step away we’ll see if it will level out. That’s the reality, it will come around again.
“Last year, could Mayo have won the All-Ireland and would we be having this conversation then?”
Kelly pointed out too that his side missed three decent goal chances in the first half and claimed they should have led 1-14 to 0-5 at half-time instead of trailing by a point.
He said: “That wouldn’t have flattered us and it might have been a different result.”
He also took exception to the label ‘third string’ that’s been attached to the Dublin panel that has contested the pre-season tournament. The term is based on Jim Gavin withholding all but three of last year’s Championship panel though Kelly said it’s still misleading.
He said: “There’s still a lot of them with All-Ireland medals. And they are accomplished footballers. They’ve probably come along in an era when Dublin have the best team of all time. So they’re at a roadblock and there’s nowhere for them to go.
“Ultimately, it’s like having a great minor team. Those guys are trying to push out Diarmuid Connolly, Ciaran Kilkenny, Philly McMahon, Kevin McManamon. Those are top quality players so it’s very difficult for those guys to break into the Dublin team.
“But there are plenty of managers around the country who’d be happy to have what’s in that Dublin dressing room.”