Friday 21 October 2016

Dublin's latest back-to-back conundrum

Boden not the first holders hit by capital punishment

Robbie McDaid in action for Ballyboden St Enda’s against Kilmacud Crokes at Parnell Park last Saturday
Robbie McDaid in action for Ballyboden St Enda’s against Kilmacud Crokes at Parnell Park last Saturday

They may be All-Ireland holders for five more months, but Ballyboden St Enda's reign as football kings of the capital has been very shortlived. Their second round exit was the weekend's most eye-catching club result - but was it really such a surprise?

Recent history tells us otherwise. Boden's 1-14 to 0-9 defeat to Kilmacud Crokes means that just one of the last ten Dublin SFC champions have successfully defended their crown - St Vincent's going back-to-back in 2014.

"If you're not 100pc right on any day in Parnell Park in the Dublin championship, your opponents will take you out," warns Paddy Carr, the current Ballymun Kickhams manager.

Carr knows all about this back-to-back conundrum from his time managing Kilmacud. He masterminded a county title in 2008 en route to All-Ireland glory the following March; but had to wait until 2010 to climb back to the summit in Dublin.

Carr still vividly recalls how their two-in-a-row dreams in 2009 were dashed after a second replay with Boden that went to extra-time. "When we went into extra-time and I went out and pulled the lads around, I had a look in their eyes and I just said there's nothing left in the tank," he recounts.

"It was almost a reverse scenario on Saturday evening - I was at the game and you could see that."

Why, though, apart from the capital's enviable strength in depth, do Dublin holders struggle?

"There's a number of factors," says Carr. "First of all, the quantity of players you would have involved in the county set-up. To the best of my knowledge, Boden would have a number of lads on the fringes of the Dublin panel ... Michael Darragh (Macauley) is the most obvious lad in there, but there were three or four of them part of the extended panel.

"From my own experience with Kilmacud, we won the 2009 All-Ireland final on a Tuesday. On the following Friday, nine of them were brought into Pat Gilroy's extended squad.


"Within ten days of winning an All-Ireland club title, we had a league fixture against St Sylvester's - and we had to ask to delay the throw-in while we got another car load of essentially teenagers to come over. We just didn't have the team.

"So you're starting right from the bottom again," he continues. "It's extremely difficult. If you have a successful run with the county, the heart is pulled out of the team.

"The reality is that if you win the Dublin championship, you're probably in pole position to win the Leinster.

"If you win a Dublin championship and you're beaten in Leinster, then you have time to regroup and refresh and reflect on what you need to do," he adds. Whereas the last decade has seen four Dublin winners of the All-Ireland race "and that's where the tensions and difficulties behind the scene come into play."

Boden will surely empathise with Carr's final point: "Putting two championships together is very difficult," he concludes, "because it's just one continuous season."

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