HomeFootballJohnny Magee believes ‘driven’ Dublin ‘will still be All-Ireland contenders next season’

Johnny Magee believes ‘driven’ Dublin ‘will still be All-Ireland contenders next season’

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The former Dublin star believes the handful of Sky Blue legends in the 30-31 age bracket will have a key role in handling the inevitable transition to follow Saturday’s painful quarter-final defeat to Galway.

Several retirements are anticipated after Dublin relinquished their Sam Maguire crown, failing to reach the semi-finals for the first time in 15 years.

Most attention has focussed on their trio of nine-time All-Ireland winners – Stephen Cluxton (42), Mick Fitzsimons (36) and James McCarthy (34).

There is also speculation over Farrell’s intentions even though he has another year to run on his current term.

However, Magee has pinpointed the so-called class of ’93 – legendary players all born in that year, namely Brian Fenton, Ciarán Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Jack McCaffrey and John Small – as key to what comes next.

“They are still going to be All-Ireland contenders next season, if the nucleus of that group stays,” Magee told the Irish Independent.

“You look at Lee Gannon and other lads, they have come in and done pretty well. So there’s still a sprinkling of young fellas there.

“The lads are so well driven. This is no disrespect to Galway, they were by far the better team in the second half and deserved their victory. But the lads know themselves that they probably didn’t perform to the best of their ability in the second-half – and that will irk them.

“But then again, will Dessie still be involved? He’s there for another year. There’s a lot of stuff up in the air … but if I’m thinking they’re All-Ireland contenders, you’re 100pc sure that those lads, if they feel there’s another in them, they’ll want to try and get that All-Ireland.”

If you include Cormac Costello who turns 30 later this month, ten of the starting team against Galway will have crossed that threshold.

When the dust settles on this season, Magee hopes those players in their early 30s might follow the lead of their skipper McCarthy, former captain Cluxton and Fitzsimons, and drive on again.

“You want to leave the team in a better position than when you first started. They will look at being beaten in a quarter-final and going out the way they did, that will hurt. And there’s a certain amount of pride with the lads. So, it’s the conversations that they’re going to have with themselves, first and foremost,” he surmised.

“Like, they owe nothing. What they’ve done will probably never be matched again, with that generation.

“It all depends on where their mindset is. If they had marched off this time last year, the lads who won their ninth All-Ireland, it would have been the ideal thing to leave on – but you don’t get the ideal way to retire.

“If there was a mass exodus of ten, that’s going totally to the other side … I don’t think the squad would sustain that.

“So, I think the lads will look at it. They showed in fits and starts how they can play. When you think of the effort that went into last year, maybe it took its toll a small bit.

“I would feel they will look at that and they will not want to leave Dublin in a position where it would be exposed for the next year or the year after. If ten of those lads pulled away, that’s a big hole to fill straight away.”

He continued: “You look at the example of James and Clucko and Mick Fitz and the service they have given, the standard they helped create and impose on that group.

“You’re hoping that those lads who are 30-31 will say, ‘The lads have done this and they’re in their mid-30s’, they pushed their maximum as long as they could for the cause.

“So, you’re hoping that the same mindset will come from the lads: ‘Okay, I’m going to play as long as I can now, once I’m contributing to the group, and I want to make sure that we leave the jersey in as good a position as I got it when I came in.’

“Inevitably there’s going to be a transition but if they can help with that transition, that would be the ideal thing – I’d like to think, as a former Dublin player and fan.”

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