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Gavin's reign is simply impossible to follow

Farrell asked to follow in the footsteps of near perfection

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Dublin manager Dessie Farrell isfacing into a difficult task

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell isfacing into a difficult task

SPORTSFILE

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell isfacing into a difficult task

New year, new decade, new manager, new rules .... but will the transition be seamless for the Dubs under Dessie Farrell? Only time will tell.

Those ten years just concluded was certainly the Decade of the Dubs, seven All-Ireland titles, nine Leinsters, five National Leagues, 51 All Star awards and, of course, let us not forget two O'Byrne Cups!

Dublin totally dominated the Gaelic football landscape and haunted the thoughts of their closest rivals, Kerry, Mayo and Tyrone, none more so than the Princes of the Pigskin from the Kingdom.

The narrative on this decade will only start to take shape now obviously but in a sense it began a couple of years back with Kerry's minors winning five All-Irelands in-a-row and the promise that, in their eyes, the natural order would be reinstated with the green and gold back on top.

That's part of the challenge now for Dublin under their new management, led by Farrell. Can they continue to evolve, continue to find new players year after year, continue to showcase the same first principles which helped to set them apart and keep the chasing pack in their rearview mirror.

It is likely to be an impossible task, isn't it?

As Jim Gavin, who was honoured with the Freedom of Dublin City last Saturday night in the Mansion House, resumes life away from the intense glare of being the Dublin boss and contemplates some of his new entitlements such as the grazing of sheep in St Stephen's Green and a bit of archery, hopefully not at same time, his achievements don't make Farrell's task any easier.

While there has not been full disclosure yet on Dessie's management team it would appear that neither Declan Darcy or Jason Sherlock will be involved. The nexus of Gavin/Darcy/Sherlock was a very potent management and coaching force.

Year on year they found new ways, tweaked their approach and tinkered with the engine to get it performing on all cyclinders.

Look at how they addressed the shortcomings that were exposed by Donegal in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final and how they improved Dublin's defensive and offensive play, giving them the greatest suite of game-plans the sport has ever witnessed.

Players improved on an individual level also, with the likes of Michael Fitzsimons and Jonny Cooper arguably showing greatest growth.

To put it mildly, they are massive shoes to fill.

Farrell is following in the footsteps of a man whose tenure was near perfection. Expectations will continue to be massive and it is going to be extremely difficult to keep the Dubs out in front.

He doesn't need to rip up the script of the previous management but in a sense Dessie is starting on the back foot.

The shock resignation of Gavin, when it looked like he was set to continue for at least one more year, has left the new manager with effectively no time to prepare for the league, a campaign which starts with a repeat of last September's incredible All-Ireland finals (draw and replay).

There is a feeling, having achieved immortality with their historic five in-a-row, that Dublin celebrated with a little more enthusiasm than other years, bar 2011.

The players returned from the team holiday to Bali less than two weeks ago, while two legends retired in the inter-county off-season (Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O'Gara), there are injuries to the likes of Stephen Cluxton and Con O'Callaghan.

Word has it that Michael Darragh Macauley requires corrective surgery on an old injury,and some of the more experienced Dubs are likely to be rested for a few more weeks. Meanwhile, the new era starts against Kerry tomorrow.

Paul Mannion said in a recent interview that he expected that Kerry will be gunning for the Dubs and he's right.

Their record against the Dubs in Croke Park over the past ten years is poor - they have collided on 13 occasions at GAA headquarters (in NFL/SFC action) with Dublin winning ten games, one draw with Kerry winning the 2017 FL Division 1 final and regulation NFL clash in 2012.

In other words Dublin won all the really big games in Croke Park.

Patience

As we set out on the road for 2020, Dublin fans will need to show patience as the new management beds in. The Dubs could hit a few obstacles in the early part of the league but ultimately, it is how the summer goes that matters to this team now.

Kerry will try to give Dublin an early season bloody nose tomorrow and will probably arrive fully armed in terms of their front-line players, while Dublin are likely to have a far more experimental look to their selection.

The league has provided some great duels in recent years and I don't anticipate tomorrow's will be any different, with the new rules an extra sub-plot to the story.

Finally, while I'm prepared to delay full analysis on the new rules the introduction of the 'advanced mark' could prove chaotic.

There has been too much interference in the Gaelic football playing rules, as far as I'm concerned. It would appear to be a case of unnecessarily trying to address some alleged problem in the game but by doing so, they will create even more problems than solutions.