Eamonn Fitzmaurice: Dublin have evolved
SUCH is the obvious rivalry between the All-Ireland final protagonists, Eamonn Fitzmaurice didn't even bother with the feigned or indifference ignorance of Dublin on Monday night at Kerry's pre All-Ireland press conference.
"They're protecting their own goals a lot better, protecting their own half of the pitch a bit better," he began when asked how much the Dubs had changed since their 2014 Donegal trauma.
"Cian O'Sullivan had done a lot of very good work for them this year in that regard.
"But I don't think too many teams play with six up on them either which will ask questions of them as well and be interesting.
"They are without a doubt … the last day as well Denis Bastick, while he was on the pitch, was defensively-minded. He was in the middle of the field but was conscious of his defensive duties.
"Without a doubt …. like we learned lessons in 2013 as well, we learned lessons in the drawn Munster final this year.
"When you don't win a game you learn valuable lessons.
"They learned some harsh lessons against Donegal last year," he pointed out.
"And they've brought it forward again this year, while at the same time still maintaining that fantastic game they have where they can put up huge scores."
Preparing in a vacuum in the two weeks since they beat Tyrone wasn't ideal, Fitzmuarice acknowledged, but neither do they have to rip up any plans and start again now that it's confirmed Dublin will form their opponents on September 20.
"Not hugely different, the way both of the teams played," he said.
"Obviously teams now are going to be strong defensively when you don't have the ball but at the same time both Dublin and Mayo would play an orthodox enough game in how they attack.
"I don't think there was going to be a huge difference. obviously Dublin is going to be a bigger challenge.
"While Mayo looked for a while this year like they had momentum, they didn't quite manage to get it over the line. Dublin, from the Monday morning after the 2014 All-Ireland, everyone was saying they were going to win it in 2015.
"So they were always going to be the team you were going to have to beat if you were going to win the All-Ireland."