MEATH LEGEND TREVOR Giles believes that Dublin completing the unprecedented five-in-a-row is “the most likely scenario,” although he also feels that 2019 could be an “interesting” championship due to the defeats they suffered during the league.
Dublin relinquished their Division 1 crown earlier this year, after they failed to reach the Division 1 decider for the first time since 2012.
Three defeats in the league condemned Jim Gavin’s charges to an unexpected fourth-place finish in the table, which have sparked questions about Dublin’s form ahead of the championship.
Giles is confident that Dublin will retain the Sam Maguire this year, but he suspects that those losses have made them “more human” as well.
“I think that’s the most likely scenario,” said the two-time All-Ireland winner of Dublin’s five-in-a-row chances.
Giles suspects that defeats in the league have made Dublin more human.
Source: Declan Roughan/INPHO
“It’s a little more interesting this year, they’ve lost three league games and Kilmacud Crokes lost in the Leinster club final and UCD lost the Sigerson semi-final, so some of the players have experienced defeat and they’re a little bit more human.
That may fuel them or slightly make them wonder ‘have they lost it?’ I’d say they’re wondering, we’re wondering. There’s a possibility they’ve come back a little bit but there’s a possibility that it will do them good.
“For supporters and spectators, that’s what makes this year so interesting.”
Commenting on the chances of the other contenders for Sam Maguire, Giles lists Mayo and Kerry as being the top teams who can potentially match Dublin this year.
He adds that Donegal are “under the radar” and predicts that they could be in the mix for All-Ireland success if ace forward Paddy McBrearty can reclaim his form after recovering from a cruciate injury.
“Being out of Division 1 did them no harm,” says Giles. “They’ve Patrick McBrearty to come back and if he can come back from his cruciate ligament injury, Donegal will be very competitive towards the end of the year.”
Giles is regarded as one of Meath’s greatest-ever players and played an instrumental role in their attack as the Royals claimed the 1996 and 1999 All-Ireland titles.
But by the turn of the new century, he could feel that his time in a Meath jersey was coming to an end.
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Trevor Giles came up against a young Alan Brogan in the 2002 Leinster semi-final.
One moment in the 2002 Leinster semi-final against a Dublin team that featured a youthful Alan Brogan stands out to him as an indicator that he was approaching the end of his inter-county career.
I do remember Alan Brogan around midfield and he just took off and you just say to yourself ‘wow, he’s fast’ and ‘am I getting a little bit slower here?’”
The landscape of Gaelic football has certainly changed since Giles’ era. He remarks that forwards “have plenty more defenders” to contend with in the modern game, which limits the influence they can have on a match.
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He can remember an age when the Leinster championship was far more competitive and the Meath supporters expected provincial silverware from the footballers.
“The Meath public were demanding in those days,” he recalls.
“If you hadn’t won a Leinster final against Dublin, you weren’t considered a great Meath player, no matter what you had done at underage.”
Ultimately, he’s happy that his career coincided with a time when attacking football was more prevalent in the sport.
I think I’m glad I played when I did. Leinster was so competitive with Dublin and Kildare and Westmeath and Laois. Offaly were winning Leinster titles [too]. I played for 12 years and we won three. It was pretty good going in the time.
“Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia but to me, there was great crowds and we would have played to at least around 40,000 and then 50,000 or 60,000 for the big games.
“It was all knockout and there was no back door for most of those days. You were getting up on a Sunday morning thinking the season could end today. It kind of focuses the mind a bit.”
Trevor Giles was speaking at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019, the quality mark for Leinster GAA clubs.
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