'We must find an extra gear' - Macauley
MICHAEL Darragh Macauley insists that Dublin will not rescale the dizzy heights of last September unless they make changes to their playing style in 2012.
The All Star midfielder was present on Sunday as Dublin got their season off to a winning start in the annual Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars match in Kiltipper Road and he was one of the panel who began their pre-dawn training sessions at 6.30am this morning.
But the Ballyboden powerhouse stressed the need for change as Pat Gilroy attempts to freshen his All-Ireland winning formula.
"If we play the exact same as we did last year we're not going to win the All-Ireland again," warned Macauley.
"We're going to have to step it up a gear because all of the teams we are playing against will be trying to up it a gear to catch us."
Macauley also dismissed fears that Dublin's Sam Maguire celebrations had left them at a disadvantage to their rivals in fitness terms.
"I think we're in a similar position to where we were last year with our fitness," said Macauley.
"In fairness to lads, they kept tipping away at it over the winter. The most important thing in the off season, I think, is that lads build on their strength and conditioning and lads did that to a huge extent.
"A lad who needed to bulk up, bulked up, and lads that needed to lose a bit of weight lost weight. Now it's January and it's back into the fitness work and it's all systems go. It's going in the right direction."
KERRY selector Ger O'Keeffe says he expects no retirements from last year's panel despite widespread expectations of an exodus from Jack O'Connor's squad.
Five of the Kerry defence that started the All-Ireland final were over 32 years of age and that narrow defeat to Dublin was expected to prompt some of the Kingdom's old guard into retirement but O'Keeffe insisted that as yet, no player has made any such decision.
"None of the lads have indicated to us that they are considering retiring," said O'Keeffe. "And obviously, we are very pleased with that. All of the fellas who have been around for a while still have a good bit of football left in them and I'm sure they will be able to make a big contribution for us once again this year."
Kerry start their League campaign against Dublin on February 4 in Croke Park but will have to make do without Dr Crokes contingent, Colm Cooper, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary, Dáithí Casey and Johnny Buckley who are all set to feature for the club in their All-Ireland semi-final clash with Crossmaglen Rangers.