"Dublin are relentless" - Mossy Quinn analyses yesterday's league final

The Kingdom couldn't stop the Dublin juggernaut, so what now for Éamonn Fitzmaurice's side?

"Dublin are relentless" - Mossy Quinn analyses yesterday's league final

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Rarely do days in April carry such importance, but Dublin's victory in the league final was a stark warning for the country's premier football teams.

What began with fizz and pace ended quite flat, Aidan O'Mahony's second half sending off sucking any competitive edge from the contest. Dublin strolled to a fourth consecutive league title and Jim Gavin celebrated with the same reserved demeanour that gave the impression that this Dublin team still have more in the tank.

Éamonn Fitzmaurice, conversely, was a picture desolation. His side trailed by two points when O'Mahony was dismissed and looked as though they would still fall short. Whatever plan they had to neutralise the ultra-versatile Dubs simply wasn't enough.

"Dublin were starting to push on in the second half, they were beginning to find the space and looked as though they would begin to kick on" said former Dublin forward Tomas Quinn.

"There were a couple of match-ups in particular [that exemplified the rivalry]. You look at Dennis Bastick and Kieran Donaghy and Philly McMahon and Colm Cooper, they were all pretty consistent going at each other.

"The teams are highly competitive and it doesn't usually go over the line. I didn't see what Aidan did but the fact that he got a straight red card it must have been an incident that warranted that."

Aidan O'Mahony is dismissed during yesterday's league final for an off the ball incident. Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Conditions differed to last September's wet All-Ireland final where both teams really struggled to find their rhythm, but it appeared that Dublin were better equipped to play in the calm conditions. Jim Gavin's side showed no fear in moving the ball quickly up the pitch, an array of forwards both on the field and on the bench capable of changing the game.

Dean Rock summed up the level headedness in this Dublin side, he didn't take his chance to put Dublin further ahead from the penalty spot in the second half. But the capital remained patient and slowly broke down the Kerry defence, pulling them wide with diagonal runs to the touchline and Paul Flynn took his opportunity when it was presented to him.

Defensively, they coped with the threat of Donaghy and Cooper. Donaghy in particular, a commanding physical presence was starved of support and when he moved from midfield into a more advanced role found it very difficult to deal with a side equipped for his presence.

"Dublin are relentless. They've got so much pace coming through that middle third, it's very hard for a team to keep them out for 70 minutes.

"This is a very special group of Dublin players, four national league titles in a row. They're very aware when it comes to the opportunities that are there in front of them to be a really great team. you can see that in how they prepare and how they perform." 

Paul Flynn celebrates scoring Dublin's first goal of the game which effectively killed off Kerry. Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne 

For Kerry, an 11 point defeat may prompt them to experiment as they did in the league campaign. After opening round defeats to Dublin and Roscommon, Fitzmaurice acknowledged the need for changed which paid dividends as they powered their way to a league final.

"There were patches where they were solid defensively and Dublin at times struggled to break through in the first half. 

"If you're going to get feedback like that, you're better off getting it in April. They've a platform now heading into the summer to work on a couple of things. They've a bit of time to work on it. Last year when they faced Dublin in the All-Ireland final, they had no comeback from that.

"Realistically, they'll be in an All-Ireland quarter-final. They've a bit of time to review and see where they are come August."