No history talk as Darcy focuses on here and now

by Dave Donnelly

Dublin assistant coach Declan Darcy says thoughts of a historic four-in-a-row are the furthest thing from the squad’s mind ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland final showdown with Tyrone.

The feat has only been managed three times in the past, twice by Kerry between 1929 and 1932 and again under the great Mick O’Dwyer between 1978 and 1981 – the other was Wexford from 1915 to 1918.

Those sides are rightly remembered as the greatest in the history of football and the current Dublin panel is just 70 minutes from carving its own piece of history alongside those illustrious names.

Such has been the management philosophy under Jim Gavin and player-led performance culture in recent year, however, that the focus has always remained on the here and now rather than history.

“It’s a bizarre thought process, and you’re probably thinking ‘he’s only saying that because he’s told to say it,’ but it’s not,” he said.

“But I think it’s very deliberate because that piece, if you look behind enough you will get caught.

“I’m sure the lads have reflected individually themselves and thought about what they could achieve, but the language is never about that. It’s bizarre.

“It’s not deliberate – that’s just the way it has evolved. It’s important because, the group, we love being in each other’s company.

“The camaraderie is underestimated as well. We enjoy what we do and we’re lucky that we have the players that we have, and when they go out and play they do perform most of the time really well.

“Jackie McCaffrey, why wouldn’t you want to go to a match and see him, or Con [O’Callaghan]? Any of the players, they’re just fantastic footballers and I’m very privileged to be in this group.

“There’s a great energy within us to want to go out and perform in each and every game.

“They look around and they want to go out and play another game, and another game, and another game, and it’s never been mentioned.

“If it happens, fantastic, but it’s not a motivating factor.”

The methodology, from the top down and from bottom up within the playing cohort, is to make subtle shifts depending on the particular challenge that faces them.

In Tyrone, they face the side perhaps most physically well-matched to the Dubs’ all-action style and, in Mickey Harte, a manager who will always maximise the collective potential of his player pool.

For Darcy and Gavin, however, the challenge remains how best to impose their attack-minded footballing approach, which has worked so well until now, on the game.

“We just focus on the opposition – we give every opposition its due respect no matter what game we play.

“It might seem methodical in ways, but it’s fairly simplistic in other ways as well. It’s not over-complicated. I don’t think there’s any mad rocket science to this.

“The simplicity to it keeps everything neutral and keeps players well-grounded and keeps them doing what they want to do.

“We want to play open football. We want to play football. That’s the bottom line. We want them lads to express themselves and be the best they can be.”

Related Articles