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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gilroy: Judge us in October

PAT GILROY has told the pundits to "wait until October" before pronouncing whether Dublin have moved on to another level in the wake of last year's long-awaited All-Ireland deliverance.

A host of media analysts and former stars have been quick to declare that the All-Ireland champions look an even better team – more accomplished and more confident – after watching their opening championship demolition of Louth.

But, speaking ahead of Sunday's Leinster SFC semi-final against Wexford at Croke Park, the Dublin manager has warned against any such premature judgements.

“I don't think you can make statements like that until October,” Gilroy told the Evening Herald today, at Dublin's pre-match press conference in DCU.

“The next day, if you have a poor performance, people will say you're going back. So I think the realistic assessment of that is at the end of the season, because really what happens in early matches just has no relevance to say whether we have moved on.

“The only way we'll know we have moved on,” he added, “is if we win the All-Ireland again in a better fashion than we did last year.”

To back up his point, Gilroy highlighted how some experts were talking of Dublin “regressing” after their up-and-down Allianz League campaign.

“People are entitled to keep making their opinions, but the time for them to be really accurate is once the competition is over,” he concluded.

Gilroy himself is in no rush to worry about end-of-season assessments because, first up, he must account for sticky opponents who have threatened to inflict disastrous defeats upon Dublin in each of the last two Leinster championships.

Dublin, trying to impose the manager's new defensive game-plan, came back from the brink to eventually win in extra-time when facing Wexford in a 2010 Leinster quarter-final. Then, last summer, the Sky Blues required a freakish own goal to kickstart their second half revival in the Leinster final.

Harking back to 2010, an occasion when Dublin players were greeted by half-time boos and at one stage trailed by seven points, Gilroy recalled: “That particular time, we were doing something completely new in the league and then when you try to bring it into the championship, it just doesn't happen instantly.

“It didn't happen in that game, it didn't really happen in the Meath game following it, even in the Tipperary match we were still getting to grips with the way we were trying to play.

“It just took time to bed in a new way of playing when you're playing at championship intensity, because we were making basic errors of timing and stuff. It just took time and I think we had to be patient.”

Patience was also required in last year's provincial decider.

“I think we helped them (Wexford) a lot of the time in the first half, in that we didn't vary things when it was quite obvious there were some things that weren't working,” Gilroy recounted.

“We probably didn't provide enough support to Bernard (Brogan), for instance, when he was on the ball early on because we got a lot of possession in that first half but we weren't turning it into scores.

“I think we helped them but, in fairness to Wexford, they always have a plan and they are well organised and they apply themselves very well. So it's always going to be difficult against them.”

He emphatically dismissed any notion of complacency, given their previous fraught history against Jason Ryan's men.

“You couldn't be,” Gilroy maintained. “They have been excellent. Even those championship matches (this year), they never fell away when at times they could have against Longford.

“It was going against them and they kept at it and got themselves reorganised, and they were impressive to come out of that game.”

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