Former Dublin forward Charlie Redmond has claimed Jim Gavin might only field his strongest team twice this year, and not until the five-in-a-row is within touching distance.
The Dubs missed out on an Allianz league final spot for the first time since Gavin took over but may yet benefit from their experimentation.
Gavin used 37 different players throughout the league, three more than last year while he used just 31 in the 2017 campaign.
Hard working half-forward Niall Scully is the only player who has started all seven of their league games while just three others — Dean Rock, Paul Mannion and Brian Howard — have featured in all of their games, coming on as subs at various stages.
League finalists and All-Ireland rivals Kerry, in contrast, have used just 31 players in the league and six of those — Peter Crowley, Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan, Jack Barry, Sean O’Shea and Stephen O’Brien — have started every game.
Redmond told ‘Hill 16 Army’s Blue is the Colou’ podcast that Gavin is clearly experimenting and that ‘their goal is the All-Ireland and only the All-Ireland’.
“What he (Gavin) has done this year, which is notable to me, he’s never played all the lads at the same time,” said Redmond.
“We’ve seen McCarthy play, we’ve seen Fenton play, we’ve seen McCaffrey play, we’ve seen O’Callaghan, Kilkenny - but we’ve never seen them all at the same time. He’s kept changing it around. Whether he’s holding them in reserve or not, maybe there are some injuries that we don’t know about.
“But he hasn’t played them all together and he mightn’t play them all together for a while, we might only see them all together maybe twice this year; a big game in the Super 8s and then in the All-Ireland final, possibly also in the All-Ireland semi-final.”
Redmond has full faith in Gavin to deliver the five-in-a-row and isn’t concerned about relinquishing the league title following defeats to Monaghan, Kerry and Tyrone.
“I know people are talking about them and saying, ‘They haven’t qualified for the league final this year’, but I don’t think the league final was actually their goal,” said the 1995 All-Ireland winner.
It would have been nice to be there, let’s call a spade a spade, but it wasn’t their goal in life this year, their goal is the All-Ireland and only the All-Ireland.
The former free-kick specialist said he won’t be reading a huge amount into how Kerry perform against Mayo in Sunday’s decider either.
“Everyone will want to stop us and no more so than the boys from the south-west in the green and gold, they definitely don’t want to see us doing five-in-a-row,” he said.
“They’re coming with a good team as well. The league final is a test for them but we’re not going to see a real test until we get further in the Championship and into August as to how good the Kerry team is.”
Redmond said his feeling is that Dublin are nicely poised to push for a historic five-in-a-row despite losing three of their seven league games.
“Let them all think what they want and at the end of the year, we’ll tell them exactly where we are,” he said. “And they’ll know exactly where we are.”