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25th May 2023

The 2013 All-Ireland final shows Dublin’s biggest problem right now

Lee Costello


Dublin might be robbing tomorrow’s success for today.

Dublin beat Mayo in the 2013 All-Ireland final in a brilliant match, but rewatching it now, in 2023, highlights the current team’s biggest problem.

Ten years ago Jim Gavin had just taken over from Pat Gilroy and turned a team of winners into unbeatable champions, that would go on to dominate the game for the next seven years.

Bernard Brogan was the main man that day, scoring 2-3 to put the sword to an incredibly talented Mayo team that would go on to achieve great success in their own right.

However, when you look through the Connacht side’s team sheet, it jumps out that Aidan O’Shea is the only player still starting regularly for the county now.


Kevin McLoughlin is still involved but has seen very little game time as of late, while Cillian O’Connor can’t seem to break into the new starting line-up.

Jason Doherty was just a kid and came on as a late substitute that day in 2013, while Rob Hennelly is now on the bench for Kevin McStay’s team.

Compare that with Dublin’s squad, and an incredible seven players who were key during that season, are every bit as vital now, as they were then.

When the news filtered through that Stephen Cluxton, Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion would all be returning this season despite leaving the panel a couple of years ago, Hill 16 rejoiced, and rightly so.


Players with that amount of talent, experience and leadership, can only be good news for the team, but the fact that they slipped back in so easily, even though they hadn’t played at inter-county level for some time, is a huge concern for the Boys in Blue.

When you even compare the Dublin team from 2011 that won their first All-Ireland in 16 years, and match it up with the team just two years later, the wheels were already in motion as big names were pushed out of the squad.

Five changes were made to the starting line-up in just two short seasons, and this trend continued throughout the decade with superstars like Brogan, Michael Darragh MacAuley, Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn all being relegated to the bench before eventually hanging the boots up.

New names always seemed to be primed, ready and hungry to replace the ageing stars that came before them, even if they still had plenty to offer.


Con O’Callaghan and Niall Scully took their chances in 2017 to become starters, and they have never looked back, but now the production line seems to have stopped.

It’s been three years since Dublin last lifted Sam, a genuine drought when you consider how the last 10 years have gone, but instead of looking to the future as they once did, they instead look to the past.

Dessie Farrell seems to be robbing tomorrow’s success for today, and in the long-term, it’s going to catch up with them. Dublin are genuine All-Ireland contenders and are very much capable of winning it this season.

However, when you consider that eight of the current panel all made their debuts in 2013 or before, and four of them were actually involved in the 2011 triumph, then it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a massive period of transition is looming.


That chunk of players will retire in one large lump, and the wheels that have been keeping the Dublin train churning might just fall off.

A day is coming soon when Hill 16 will be looking at Croke Park, their team losing, the time ticking, and they won’t have a James McCarthy, Ciaran Kilkenny, Dean Rock, Cluxton or the rest of their past heroes to bail them out.

Of course, there are young talented footballers spread throughout the county, but with their game time limited as veterans keep them out of the team, they are going to be very raw when their time comes to step up and save the day.

Dublin players who have made their inter-county debut in 2013 or before:

Stephen Cluxton – 2001

Michael Fitzsimons – 2011

Jack McCaffrey – 2013

James McCarthy – 2011

Ciaran Kilkenny – 2012

Paul Mannion – 2013

Dean Rock – 2013

Cormac Costello – 2013

Craig Dias – 2011

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