Ray Cosgrove: Kerry threaten Dubs’ four-in-a-row hopes

Former Dublin All-Star Ray Cosgrove has identified new-look Kerry as the greatest threat to his county’s bid for four All-Ireland titles in a row.

Former Dublin footballers Peader Andrews, left, and Ray Cosgrove with: Bronwyn O'Connell, Weston O'Connell and Portia O'Connell

But the 2002 Championship top scorer believes Dublin are ultimately well placed to retain their crown and spoke of a burning ambition within the group to go down in history as football’s greatest.

Mick O’Dwyer’s Kerry currently hold that status with eight All-Irelands, 11 Munster titles and 65 All-Stars annexed between 1975 and 1986.

Dublin are creeping up behind them with five All-Irelands in seven seasons, seven Leinster wins and 42 individual All-Star awards.

Crucially, there is no sign of them slowing down, with another stroll through Leinster anticipated ahead of Sunday’s semi-final against Longford.

“I definitely do believe that they know that they can be the greatest Gaelic football team that ever played,” said Cosgrove at the launch of the AIG and Dublin Masters Football Team partnership.

“I haven’t heard it from the horse’s mouth, but I’ve heard through other sources that they know that they can go down in history, that they can walk around town and be compared to the Kerry team of the 70s.

“And they’re not foolish. They know what other opportunities that that can bring, from a working perspective. 

"They know they won’t be playing football all their lives and, if you’ve six or seven All-Irelands in your back pocket, that will certainly open doors that wouldn’t open to other people.

“They do know without a shadow of a doubt that they’re riding the crest of a wave and they don’t want to let it go.”

Dublin manager Gavin has carefully created a new team, with just three players — Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy and Cian O’Sullivan — starting all five final wins since 2000.

“I know for a fact from talking to someone that they’re more driven to win another All-Ireland this year and the year after. They know they’ve got a short window of opportunity,” said Cosgrove, part of the Dublin U15 team management. 

“Some of these guys have five medals and know they could get it up to six or seven, the hunger is most certainly there.”

From watching what’s coming through at underage level in the capital, Cosgrove knows there’s no reason for panic about the future.

The former Wicklow selector said: “I don’t see it slowing down. I’m involved with the U15s and we have 70-odds kids there at the moment. 

"You’d like to think you’d be able to bring through a couple more of those kids every year and, as long as Dublin are getting one or two through every year, adding to what they’ve currently got, I don’t see it slipping one bit.”

Kerry, typically, appear to be the team most likely to throw a spanner in the works. Éamonn Fitzmaurice is also putting together an exciting new team, which crushed Clare with a 32-point tally last weekend.

“I think Kerry are the closest team to beating Dublin this year,” said the Kilmacud Crokes man.

“I watched them in Croke Park in the league; I thought after 20 minutes there were already glimpses that on a hot summer’s day those boys could do something. 

"They are technically skillful. I think these guys could push Dublin.

“They might have lost two fellas to injuries at half-time and they probably didn’t deliver in the second half that day, but I saw glimpses of talent coming through there that I think makes them the closest team to beating Dublin this year.”

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