Former Kerry footballer and pundit Pat Spillane has dismissed Joe Brolly's claims that the Dublin team has reverted to type in the early part of 2024 under Dessie Farrell. The All-Ireland champions have recorded back-to-back losses in the Allianz Football League after losing to Monaghan last weekend.
Last year, Dublin struggled for consistency in the early parts of the year under Dessie Farrell, but after the return of a number of older players and former boss Pat Gilroy, they managed to win the Sam Maguire once again. St. Vincent's man Gilroy wasn't officially listed as part of the management team last year, with his role more of an advisory one, while he acted as a water carrier on match days.
This year, alleged reports around Gilroy's role in Dublin have emerged, and they have stated that Gilroy cannot give the same level of commitment as he did last year because of business ties and his involvement in other aspects. Brolly claimed that Gilroy's lack of influence has affected Dublin's footballers this year.
"Pat Gilroy's arrival as water boy mid-season last year transformed them. Since his departure, they have gone back to the dull, formulaic, risk-free stuff that had become their hallmark since Dessie Farrell's arrival," Brolly said in his column in the Irish Independent.
However, Spillane, a former broadcasting colleague of Brolly's, believes that there is little to read about Dublin's two losses in the league this year. The Kerry great believes that Dublin are using the league to blood new players and get fit before the championship starts later this year. He has also dismissed Brolly's assumption that Dublin are "boring to watch this year."
"I wouldn’t read anything into their two losses in the league so far. Even fielding depleted sides, they could have easily won both games," said the Kerry legend. "Dublin look like they are using the league to get competitively fit and try out different combinations, as well as look at new players who might make an impact off the bench later on.
"By the way, I don’t agree with Joe Brolly’s contention that Dublin is boring to watch. At times, all counties play boring football. Dublin can and does play exciting and entertaining football as well.
"Let’s be realistic; they’re not in the entertainment business; they are in the results business. If you want entertainment, go to the cinema or the theatre."
Dublin will have to contend for the 2024 Sam Maguire without a number of older players this year. The likes of Dean Rock and Paul Mannion have called time on their successful Dublin careers. Many people have written Dublin off because of the retirements, and many believe that Spillane was in that same camp a number of weeks ago.
The Kerry native clarified his comments from weeks ago and stated that this Dublin team is a pale imitation of the one that won six-in-a-row all those years ago. However, Spillane does believe that Dublin will be in and around the hunt for Sam Maguire come the summer. It's just not as guaranteed as it once would have been for the dubs.
"I want to set the record straight about Dublin. My recent comments in this paper suggested they were in decline," he added. "I ought to have been more nuanced. The point I was making is that they are a pale shadow of the six-in-a-row-winning side.
"But I am not writing off the 2024 Dubs. Far from it. They are serious All-Ireland contenders and will be around at the business end of the campaign.
"But they are not the unbeatable version that we got used to seeing over the years, and that is understandable."