Dubs rising | 

Charlie Redmond: Dublin are flexing their muscles all over again

Dubs legend encourgaed by what he sees from Dessie Farrell’s men

23 April 2023; Con O'Callaghan of Dublin on the way to scoring is side's first goal during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Laois and Dublin at Laois Hire O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Charlie Redmond

I went time travelling as I watched Dublin go Back to the Future last weekend.

A hugely encouraging exhibition of fast-moving, direct attacking football was the best I’d seen since the six-in-a-row Invincibles were in their devastating pomp.

I know it was an April fixture against hugely overmatched opposition, a low Laois hurdle before Becher’s Brook looms, but this was the performance Dublin fans have craved.

Less of the ceaseless, back and forth, lateral passing – and a conscious decision to go for the jugular.

Scoring 4-30 is a significant statement regardless of the opposition. This was the most fluid offensive display of Dessie Farrell’s reign.


The result – as with the league final against a top eight side like Derry – was that it rained goal chances.

Dublin have scored eight and created 15 in two games. It has been invigorating.

As a former forward, I can’t overemphasise the difference quick, accurate supply makes. It gives the attacking player a huge advantage over defenders, the latter having less time to get into their stifling system, or to pull, drag and clog space.

Con O’Callaghan is central to the improvement. Having him back to full fitness is a huge bonus. This guy has everything – power, pace, strength, football intelligence, two good feet. Get him the ball to him and he will make the right decision. He’s unstoppable.

Colm Basquel’s 1-5 haul was another significant plus.

He has been an outstanding club footballer for a number of years while flattering to deceive at county level. The Ballyboden man appeared liberated by the quickfire tactics.

Having lost so many players to retirement, Dublin need additional quality. On this form, Basquel can become a serious option for Farrell.

I must praise Dessie for his handling of Jack McCaffrey. Bringing him back slowly, guarding against injury while working on his fitness, the management have played a blinder with as guy who can be a difference maker later in the summer.

The one downside for Dublin was the concession of 2-9 against opponents, who, Paul Kingston, aside were toothless.

That will hurt the defenders’ pride. It is a potential weakness that will have been noted by Jack O’Connor.

Dublin’s devastating display last week, combined with Kildare’s experience last year – when they conceded three goals in the opening minutes to render the game a non-contest – will likely see the Lilywhites go very defensive today.

Their initial target will be to remain competitive until half-time. But Kildare have had their difficulties and I confidently expect Dublin to win by more than ten points.

When we talk of the great stars of Dublin’s golden age, names like Jim Gavin, Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy, Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny rightly come to the fore.

One that is not mentioned as often is John Costello, who has announced his decision to retire this October as Dublin CEO after 30 years of magnificent and selfless service.

John has been pivotal to the growth of Gaelic games in the capital. The development of Dublin GAA under his stewardship has been immense.

I have known him since his Erin’s Isle playing days and, if he was unlikely to win an Allstar with his on-field displays, he stands alone with his wise and visionary leadership.

Nobody has made a bigger contribution to Dublin’s golden age.

I’m sure I speak for all ex-players and for everyone who has stood on the Hill during a glorious era for Dublin fans in delivering a heartfelt thank you for his stellar work.

The good news is that Dessie Farrell and his team might be poised to give John the ultimate going away present.

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