Whelan feels Dublin are ‘in Kerry’s heads’ as old roles reverse

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Whelan feels Dublin are ‘in Kerry’s heads’ as old roles reverse


Mickey Whelan. Photo: Sportsfile
Mickey Whelan. Photo: Sportsfile

Mickey Whelan can’t see how any hype that may go with pursuing a fifth successive All-Ireland title will hamper Dublin’s footballers in their bid to make history in 2019.

Whelan had a ringside seat to witness the genesis of this team when they landed their first All-Ireland title in 2011, as coach to manager Pat Gilroy, but feels their winning mentality will guard them against whatever pitfalls there may be.

“If you keep thinking about it, it’ll be noise in their brain. But they don’t. It’s just another championship, simple as that. They’re not worried about it now, it’ll start when it starts and they’ll be ready for it,” he said.

Whelan believes the team has far exceeded the expectation he had of them when he stepped down after the 2011 success, a year before Gilroy’s departure. “When I stepped down I told you guys (media) they’d win four All-Irelands, but not in a row. That statement is on (record). And there’s a lot of that team that have won six. It was a great group. Again, they all bought into it. But they worked hard. We flogged them, we flogged them to change their mentality. I just wanted to make sure they weren’t soft,” he added.

Whelan believes dominance over Kerry in this decade – they’ve won their last four championship meetings (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016) with the Kingdom – has given them added steel.

“We were the second (Dublin) team to beat Kerry in an All-Ireland championship in 84 years. 84 years, do you understand that? Two wins in 84 years. And that was in everybody’s heads, particularly in Kerry’s heads. They’re coming up saying, ‘These guys never beat us’. But the roles have changed now. I think we’re a bit in their heads,” he said. Whelan has stepped away from his involvement with the Dublin hurlers after Gilroy was unable to continue due to work pressures. He believes his St Vincent’s colleague will be back in a Dublin management role again in the future. “I’ve one foot in the grave here and I’m involved, why wouldn’t he get involved again,” he said. “He’s a young man, a very young man. He’ll be back involved.

Chasing “He won’t go chasing it (the hurling job). But there will be a time they’ll be looking for somebody to do stuff and if he’s available he’d probably take it, he likes a challenge. He’s very good management skills. He’s an engineer and a lot of engineers go on and become managers of all sorts of business.”

Whelan said it wasn’t possible for Gilroy to continue. “He’s creating a lot of employment for people. And there is a lot of other things now beyond hurling and football. So apart from business, it’s the environment he’s creating and the employment he’s creating for people.

“But I thought we put together a nice set-up and got it off the ground. And we changed it a little bit. We changed the mental profile. And that’s important. You have to be prepared to hurt to get anywhere, to make the steps you need.”

Whelan admitted his involvement with the Dublin hurlers brought more pressure than his previous involvement with the footballers because of the lack of identity he had Gilroy had with hurling at that level. “It was more pressurised, because I’d say when it was announced everybody was saying, ‘What are these guys doing with it?’

“It was a positive year. I thought we made progress. We were seen as a kind of a football management team going in but Anthony (Cunningham) gave that a bit of credibility.

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“I think the players rowed in behind us and did a very good job. I was happy with our outcomes. And we had to go the way we went because we got in very late.

“We had to elevate the fitness levels. That had to be done at the expense of the league. We knew we had to beat Offaly to stay up and we had to have them at their best to meet Kilkenny in the first round of the championship. And it kind of worked out for us.”

Irish Independent


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