Dublin won’t panic like Kerry once did on the brink of five in a row, says Ronan McCarthy.
The Cork manager believes surviving the ferocious 2016 All-Ireland semi-final test from Kerry — one of the greatest matches he has seen — has given Jim Gavin’s men a near unshakable belief in themselves.
Speaking on the Irish Examiner GAA Championship Podcast, McCarthy said: “The ‘16 semi-final was one of the greatest games I’ve ever been at. What was absolutely marvellous about that game was that Éamonn (Fitzmaurice) on the line did everything he could. Kerry disrupted the kickout, marvellous switches were made, everything was done.
“Dublin ended up with nine forward players on the pitch, with Ciarán Kilkenny at wing back. They were four points down twice in the second half. And kept their composure, that was the key thing.
“They were obviously rattled, but they kept playing.
“You go back to the ‘82 final, when Seamus Darby got the goal. If you look at the remaining two minutes of that game, Kerry panicked massively. Tom Spillane had the ball on the 21-yard line, Tim Kennelly just pulling on the ball on the ground.
“Dublin won’t do that. Even if they are three or four points down with six minutes to go they will keep playing. So if Kerry find themselves in that position, they must keep going at them, keep going forward, and make gains against their defence.
I think that 16 game was key. It was the one they came through, when literally everything was thrown at them. The kickout collapsed coming up to half-time. They were in real trouble and obviously playing against a forward line who were going to hurt them.
"They had to come out and chase the game and Kerry gave everything both on the field and on the line and they still came through it. They gained a confidence from that. I think it was the key game for them in this run of games.”
Despite the bitter disappointment of that semi-final defeat, Fitzmaurice, also speaking on the podcast, expressed his admiration for the way Dublin dug in when pushed to the brink.
“I think they get better in those situations. They live to be challenged. They live to show what they are all about. And they really are brilliant at doing exactly that, being in the moment, making the right decisions, and grinding away.
“And it’s not always the same players. They have their big players, the Fentons and the Kilkennys who generally guide the way. But they’ve different fellas who step up on different days, they’re not relying on one or two fellas. That’s just the sign of true champions.
“You just have to earn it, they are not going to give it to you.”
McCarthy believes Jim Gavin’s phlegmatic sidelines presence is a factor in his side’s calmness under pressure.
“It must come from their manager. His demeanour on the sideline; he is always in control. He never seems to get too upset either way. Even in the 14 semi-final when they lost to Donegal, he actually conducted himself throughout the game that way, came in and said the same things after the game.
“A manager transmits that. That’s his personality.”
“They probably try things in training where they are throwing things at them,” Fitzmaurice added. “Different scenarios. Throwing things at them and disrupting them to get them to think their way through it.”
Listen to the Renault Irish Examiner GAA Championship podcast on iTunes, soundcloud, spotify, and irishexaminer.com/podcast