Conor McManus believes the team that beats Dublin this year must match their hunger to achieve the feat.
McManus put Monaghan within touching distance of a league win over the Dubs in February, kicking 12 points in Croke Park, before Jim Gavin’s side kicked two late points to snatch victory.
Monaghan proved that night they can compete with Dublin, but McManus reckons beating them is a different ball game. “You’d have to admire how they’re going about it,” he admits.
“Even early doors in the season, after winning the All-Ireland last year, you wondered have they the hunger for it, do they have the desire to kick on and win some of those tight games in the league?
“And they’ve done that. Four leagues on the bounce shows serious consistency and massive hunger.
“They’ve won two out of three All-Irelands and have dominated the Leinster championships so you can’t really argue with.
“Everything about them at the minute is top drawer and it’s up to everybody else to catch up.”
Monaghan are one of the chasing pack trying to hang onto the coat-tails of Jim Gavins’ all-conquering Dubs. Malachy O’Rourke’s side start their bid for a third Ulster SFC title in four years against Down on June 5 in Clones.
As well as maintaining their grip on Ulster, they want to bridge the gap to the game’s elite – and that means only one team.
McManus claimed: “There’s no doubt Dublin are the benchmark for everybody but as every team knows in sport, they can be caught on any given day.
“I’m not saying that Monaghan would be the team to beat them, but they’re there to be shot at. And there are 30 counties shooting at them.
“When we played them in the championship they beat us comfortably in the quarter-final (2014), and they beat us comfortably in the league in Clones.
“We’ve run them close twice since that, but ultimately we haven’t beaten them.
“We can compete with them, we know we can do that.
“But whether we can get over the line against them is another thing, but that is a long way away.
“We have a lot of work to do and a lot of bridges to cross before we can even think about that.”
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