2021 All-Ireland Championship: Peter Canavan and Jim McGuiness discuss Dublin’s main challengers

The Sam Maguire Cup is spending Christmas by the Liffey for the sixth consecutive winter, with Dublin continuing to dominate the All-Ireland Championship.

Despite significant turnover in personnel in 2020, the Sky Blues barely broke stride in their march to another national title.

The question on the lips of Gaelic football fans all over Ireland is whether there is a team capable of bringing Dublin’s dominance to an end in 2021.

“I think there are counties there that can cause Dublin plenty of problems,” said Peter Canavan on the Inside The Game 2020 review show.

“Kerry did last year. Mayo did for long periods this year.

“I would have liked to see Donegal, had Donegal got at them in the semi-final. We can talk about players up front that can score – Donegal have those players in abundance.

“Tyrone, possibly down the line if they can match them around the middle sector, have players that can cause them problems.

“So there are certainly teams there [that can match Dublin]. Scorelines from previous years would show that teams can get close to them.”

However, Canavan knows it is far more than just assembling 15 elite players.

“It’s a fact that Dublin don’t just have 15 or 16 good players. They have 25,” he continued.

“Their game-management is streets ahead of so many other counties. I think that next year that, yes there will be teams that are capable of getting very close to Dublin.”


McGuinness: Dublin have had all the answers

Jim McGuinness says the top contenders must raise their game if they are to match the Sky Blues.

“Kerry, Mayo, Donegal for sure, Tyrone. They would all have capabilities to mount that sort of a challenge,” said the former Donegal boss.

“Dublin are so good at managing games. When they have been pushed, they have had the answers. So it’s going to take something really serious from the opposition.

“I think that has to be a merging of really, really top quality players, and an absolutely top quality game-plan. You almost have to get nearly eight-to-10 things right, absolutely spot-on, to keep asking questions. And that’s a lot of things to get right in any given game. If you get three or four things right in a game, it’s a good day’s work in terms of tactics.

“So there’s such a breadth to how you have to take them on, and you’ve got to answer all those questions.”

If you look at taking on Dublin, you’ve got to be planning for 1-22 or 2-22 yourself.

McGuinness says a team must have their shooting boots on

McGuinness is the last manager to defeat Dublin in a championship game, and knows the importance of being dynamic throughout the contest.

“Peter talked about in-game management – anything they come up with in the middle of the game, you’ve got to be able to react to that, and have the right answer and be effective as well,” he explained.

“It is a big, big challenge, but there are teams out there with a lot of good players, that can take information under pressure and use that information. And there are a lot of talented players out there as well.

“[Dublin] just have physical fitness, physical conditioning, they’ve got the strength, they’ve got the tactical nous, they’ve got the experience. It’s a dynasty at this stage, six championships in a row. It’s just phenomenal. You’re taking on all of those aspects, and you’ve got to be better in all those aspects.

“If you think about the championship, and I know it’s been different in All-Ireland finals, but if you look at taking on Dublin, you’ve got to be planning for 1-22 or 2-22 yourself, because that’s what they consistently score.

“That hasn’t been the case in All-Ireland finals, because they are human, and some of those kids are winning their first. You could see it afterwards, what it meant to them. And so there was a freshness there as well. Dessie Farrell has managed the situation really well, snipping the chord, and this is their first go at it, as a new team and a new management. And I thought that was really smart to hear him saying that after the game.”

You can watch the full discussion in the video at the top of this article.

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