Kevin McManamon: 'We just need to get used to blanket defence'
Dublin were in control in Castlebar once early goals went in says ace McManamon
THE reality of the uninviting terrain facing Dublin this summer has long dawned.
"We just need to start getting used to it," says Kevin McManamon.
"Because people are probably catching on that it is a way to stifle us."
Exhibit A: Tyrone come to Croke Park last Saturday week.
Each time Dublin have possession, all 15 men in red and white shirts retreat to pre-ordained deep-lying defensive positions.
Dubs are kept to 1-9, the lowest total claimed in the Jim Gavin era.
Exhibit B: Dublin go to Castlebar where Mayo decide to play the visitors at their own free flowing game. Full-time score: Mayo 0-10 Dublin 2-18.
An outcome, you might reasonably assume, which will preclude Mayo from doing same at any stage in the near future.
"I don't think it's as simple as that," says McManamon, rejecting the associated dilemma facing opposition managers based on the above.
"I think there's teams out there that can take us on. When they get their match ups right…it's not as simple as 'we have to go defensive against Dublin.'
"There's teams that can take us on and I also think we can beat defensive teams if we have the right attitude.
"Look at Derry (in the League final) and Monaghan (in the All-Ireland quarter-fianal) last year when our plan went well.
"It's more about us executing our plan better. And I don't think we did it well against Tyrone (in this year's League) and last year against Donegal."
Surprisingly, given his most reason seasons ended at the clutches of Donegal and, at club level, a particularly defensively adroit St Oliver Plunkett's/ER side, McManamon says "I really enjoy the defensive games, to be honest with you.
"I get a lot out of them.
"It's about reinventing ourselves and I get a lot from playing against defensive teams over the years, even though we haven't had a huge amount of tests in the Championship against it apart from Donegal.
"We had Monaghan last year and Derry in the League final but other than that, we haven't had too many tests against teams that 'park the bus'."
"You just probably need to have a bit more patience in your game.
"There are days when you go out and it's a nice evening in Croke Park and you might have 40 yards of space and you're getting the ball kicked into you and have a good head-on battle with your man.
"That's what I love. But you just have to accept that that's not always going to happen."
McManamon admits that following the Tyrone game: "We were a bit down on Sunday morning but we had a good chat on the Tuesday evening and we went through what went wrong."
"When the two goals went in early," he reflects of Dublin's most compelling display of the year, "it just gave us that bit more control over the game.
"I don't know if…it's not as simple as we just let loose. I believe that's how it's being portrayed but I wouldn't really agree with that."
The presumption now about Dublin's season is that, after two League titles on the trot, nothing before August matters one jot.
"To me, it always matters that we play well," McManamon says of the renewed possibility of Dublin extending their spring into the semi-finals of the League, at least, with Derry (home) and Monaghan (away) to come, having flirted with a relegation battle.
"It matters that we do well against Derry and that we do against Monaghan and from there, we just see what happens.
"If we get to the semis - great."
"But is important. It's important to me anyway. You're only in three competitions a year.
"It's about getting as much out of all of them as you can."
He's sure too that while the Tyrone and Kerry results didn't spark internal panic, nor will the Mayo game prompt undue glee.
"You try and stay as close to the middle as you can and not get carried away by the big days or not get too down by the bad days and just try and learn from them."
McManamon concludes: "It's business as usual."