Charlie Redmond: Pressure on Kerry to protect legacy of 1980s team

DUBLIN LEGEND CHARLIE Redmond believes the current Kerry squad are playing to protect the legacy of the Kingdom’s Golden Years team in Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

Mick O’Dwyer’s great Kerry side won seven All-Irelands between 1978 and 1986, including the four-in-a-row from ’78 and ’81. They were widely regarded as the greatest team of all-time, up until Jim Gavin’s current record-breakers achieved a similar feat last season.

This weekend, Dublin are aiming to land a fifth All-Ireland title in succession which would leave them out on their own on the pantheon as the greatest side the game has ever seen. 

Redmond, an All-Ireland winner in 1995, says there’s an added pressure on the Kingdom heading into this game as Dublin look to eclipse Kerry’s legendary crew.

“They are a phenomenal outfit, they are on the cusp of creating something that’s never been done before in the GAA,” he said of Dublin.

“And if they are to do it on Sunday they will quite rightly be regarded as the greatest football team of all-time.

Dublin legend Charlie Redmond.

Source: James Meehan/INPHO

“Now, another team tried to achieve this, albeit many years ago in ’82, the Kerry team.

“It’s ironic that we’re playing Kerry in the final because while Dublin are under a bit of pressure, the pressure they’ve been under for three or four years now, there’s a huge amount of pressure going to be placed on the Kerry guys.  

“They’re playing to keep that ’80s team as the joint best team of all-time. And I’m sure that’s been impressed upon them down in Kerry by their family, by their friends. And even though they might not like it, that will impact on them I’m sure.

“I think they’re a great football team, the Kerry team. I think they’ve been coming and getting better and better and better with every game I’ve seen them this season.

“And if Dublin are to prevail on Sunday they’re going to have to give the best performance they’ve given all season.”

Redmond shot down criticism of Dublin’s off-field financial and population advantages.

“We have a large population in Dublin but not everybody plays Gaelic football. There are more sports available in Dublin than there is in any other part of the country – basketball, golf, you name it.

“All you’ve to do is look at the Dublin SFC – there are only 24 teams contesting it. There are more clubs in Cork than Dublin – so there are more players in Cork than Dublin. What we have done, we had a very lean spell from ‘95 to 2011.

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“We were struggling to win Leinsters in that period. What the county board did, they invested in the structures at a younger level and they developed players and the development eventually got fruition in 2011. That has continued to provide the tools to the managers of the underage teams to see them progress and become senior footballers.

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“So we can’t do anything about the structures we set out being successful. If people want to say there’s too much money in Dublin because of our sponsors, well then beat us and take our sponsors off us.

“Dublin is a county, it’s one county and it will always remain one county. Anyone who wants to talk about splitting Dublin, I just laugh at them and walk away from them.”

Having failed to even reach a final between 1996 and 2010, Dublin’s 2011 victory over the Kingdom – courtesy of a late Stephen Cluxton winner – saw the birth of a blue monster. 

“We’ve watched them emerging from 2011 onwards. While the management and a lot of personnel have changed. Thankfully the mentality within the team hasn’t.

“I’m sure they’re not thinking about what’s at stake, I’m sure they’re thinking about this is one game against Kerry. And it’s an All-Ireland final, you can’t forget about that.

“But I’m sure that Jim Gavin and the boys are saying listen, ‘This is Kerry. This is where it all started in 2011 when Dublin weren’t given a chance of beating Kerry. And we did and we’ve seen what’s accrued from that.’ 

Charlie Redmond was speaking at the launch of the Londis Senior All-Ireland Football 7s at Kilmacud Crokes GAA club.

Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

“I’m sure the Kerry management team is impressing that upon their boys as well: ‘One good win, take it away from them and then we’ll see how they react. We’ll be top dogs, let’s see what they can bring to the table then.’

“In many ways the emergence of both teams would mirror one another albeit eight years apart. But Kerry are coming into this game with a huge opportunity. Don’t be mistaken about that. Any team that has the forward division they have has an opportunity and a huge opportunity at that.

“We know we’ve a good back line and forward line. There will be question marks asked about the Kerry defence all year. Well on Sunday we’re going to get the answers to those questions and no Kerry team comes to Croke Park without confidence and attitude.

“When you get confidence and attitude and the talent they have, they’ve a huge opportunity of winning on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Dublin’s seventh All-Ireland final this decade and sixth under Gavin. The county haven’t been beaten in a decider since 1994, when Redmond himself was part of their attack.

Either way, history beckons.

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