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Friday 2 December 2016

'There's times you need eight forwards': Darcy

Dublin selector Declan Darcy. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin selector Declan Darcy. Photo: Sportsfile

A striking feature of Dublin's victory over Kerry was that at the time of the final whistle, Jim Gavin had eight recognised forwards on the pitch.

In a game churning towards stalemate in its tactical evolution, Dublin are almost completely unique.

Even Kerry, the great stylists of the sport, have changed, typified by their late substitution of Marc Ó Sé for Paul Geaney, to re-establish a sweeper after Dublin had pushed up on Aidan O'Mahony.

Granted, Ciarán Kilkenny was operating in the wing-half back domain he has intermittently patrolled this summer and Diarmuid Connolly had retreated to midfield.

But even these postings were signs of Dublin's commitment to winning the game.

"There's times you might need eight backs and there's times you might need eight forwards," says Declan Darcy, one of Jim Gavin's selectors and his most trusted and longest-serving managerial accomplice.

"The game has gone very tactical."

Which isn't necessarily to everyone's taste, as Darcy knows well.

"My father goes to the matches and he doesn't have a clue what's going on," he explains.

"He doesn't know why fellas are here, there or anywhere. He doesn't see it, he doesn't see the kick-outs or anything, he just sees the ball going over the bar.

"I look at it in a different way - but that's from a coach's viewpoint."

"It's fascinating. I love watching it.

"I think Mickey Harte was the one that kind of challenged everybody from the tactical piece and then Jim McGuinness and I really like it."

Tactical astuteness aside, this Dublin team has been also heavily complimented for their resilience as a group, particularly after that Kerry game.

"We go through them roller-coaster rides that this team has been through, ups and downs," Darcy explains.

"If you let it evolve within the group, you would be hoping when the test does come that they'll trust themselves.

"They were asked seriously hard questions, they could have easily just said 'today's not the day,' or 'we have our All-Ireland from last year,' but they didn't."

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