Underage success the key to future, believes legend Cullen
BRYAN CULLEN admits to being "very surprised" at Dublin's defeat to Tipperary in last Saturday week's Eirgrid All-Ireland U21FC semi-final.
"There would have been a lot of good young players joining the senior squad over the last few years, who were all involved with the under-21s," Cullen, who won an All-Ireland U21 title with Dublin in 2003, explained.
"So I would have seen their talent first-hand and I would have seen the quality of player Dublin had to pick from. I would have been very surprised.
"They would have been hot favourites but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
"But Dublin will definitely be disappointed going out in the semi-final. They would have had ambitions of doing back-to-back."
Cullen was also involved in an All-Ireland minor final and replay in 2001, when Dublin were beaten by Tyrone and despite a recent surge in success at both of the main underage grades in the capital, he stressed the importance of winning such titles in the development of younger players.
"Being successful at underage, I found, gives you great confidence for when you go into the senior setup," he explained.
"You're used to winning. When I played under-21, we won three Leinster titles and contested two All-Ireland finals and we were just used to winning.
"Whether it was Tyrone or Kerry or Cork or whoever, we were just used to beating these teams.
"It took us a while to transfer that to senior but we were fearless when we came into the senior setup."
Seven of Tipperary's players could seal a minor and under-21 All-Ireland double were they to beat Tyrone in Parnell Park on Saturday and Cullen acknowledges it would be "a massive achievement".
"There has obviously been a lot of talk about Dublin and the resources and then you look at a county like Tipperary, who have beaten them in a minor final and now at under-21 level too."