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Monday 10 December 2018

The fall of Meath and Kildare is bad news for the game - Andrews

Critical: Peadar Andrews
Critical: Peadar Andrews

Peadar Andrews played for the Dubs at a time when Leinster titles were desperately hard earned.

Paddy Andrews now plays for the Dubs at a time when they're 1/100 to retain the Delaney Cup, even before their provincial semi-final against Longford this Sunday.

Clearly, this altered state of affairs has plenty to do with the "clear difference" in standards between Peadar's era (1999-2006) and the all-conquering collective of which his younger brother is an important constituent part.

But there's another factor at play, reckons the elder P Andrews.

"If you just boil it down to a numbers game and you look at the populations that Kildare and Meath have, I'm surprised that they're not seeing that level of top-quality player coming through that Dublin have had," he says.

In Dublin, he accepts, the "quantum of top-level footballers and hurlers coming through has been phenomenal". But for all of Dublin's obvious population head start, Andrews still wonders why Kildare (population 222,130) and Meath (194,942) aren't making a better fist of it.

Massively

"When I was playing football, the Leinster championship was massively competitive. You had Kildare, Meath and Dublin, but then you also had the likes of Offaly and Laois - and that doesn't seem to be the case now," the St Brigid's clubman expands.

"And I think that's bad for the game. If I look at attendances in Leinster, they're relatively low and it's not good. I don't think it's in anybody's interests to see Dublin hammering teams. They don't get anything from it."

Dublin's development squad system has worked a treat - but it's not as if their neighbours haven't embraced a similar model.

"If they're investing in the development squads, which they are, they should have a cohort of players coming through," says Andrews, who has recently resumed his Sky Blue career with the Dublin Masters.

"But I do wonder whether the club structures there are as strong. The club structures in Dublin football have been very competitive; we've benefited from an influx of country players that have lifted the standard of club football.

"It's great that you have (county) panel players going back playing competitive club games," he adds. "Whereas I'm sure you'd have that same high quality of competitive club competition in Kildare and Meath. There might be one or two strong teams, but does it have the breadth of teams that are really competitive, like Dublin?"

Meanwhile, back at the senior coalface, Dublin carry on lording it. "When they win an All-Ireland, there seems to be the same level of hunger to defend a title," he points out, praising management for overseeing a "massively well-disciplined and very ambitious" group. "No matter what is thrown at them, if it is Mayo getting in their faces in the first 10 or 15 minutes, they stick to their game plan and ultimately that plan sees them through to success."

Last question: does his brother train harder? "I would say smarter," he replies. "There is more understanding behind the science of sport and physical preparation ... looking back on my playing days, there were training sessions after games running around Leopardstown as part of our recovery."

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