“Dublin don’t have another Con O’Callaghan in the pipeline.”
Ciaran Whelan says Dublin don’t have the players coming through that they used to have and he is fearful that the All-Ireland champions could be overturned this year.
Dublin are aiming to win a seventh All-Ireland title in succession and will open their Leinster campaign against either Wexford or Wicklow.
However, with Mayo in transition last year, and both Donegal and Kerry suffering shock provincial exits, the Sunday Game pundit believes that this is could be the year that ends Dublin’s incredible run.
“I’ve a funny feeling that this year could be different for some reason,” Whelan told The JMac Podcast.
“Dublin could have an off day this year. I don’t now, I just have an instinct that the run is going to come to an end.
“I don’t know, there’s no logic or reasoning behind it, they’re probably as good as ever.”
Kieran Donaghy famously called out Joe Brolly, after winning the 2014 All-Ireland, for saying the production line in Kerry was gone.
While Whelan didn’t go as far as that about his own county, he does have concerns that Dublin aren’t producing enough top-tier players at underage level.
“One thing I will say is that Dublin don’t have another Con O’Callaghan in the pipeline or another Brian Fenton or another Ciaran Kilkenny,” Whelan explained.
“I know that. That’s not coming for another few years because you’d know about these players and you’d hear about them at under-15, under-16, minor.
“There isn’t a huge flow of players coming through so the next few years will be interesting.”
Whelan’s club mate Brian Fenton became the first man to win two Player of the Year awards since Trevor Giles, after the Raheny man won his sixth consecutive All-Ireland title.
Unbelievably, the 28-year-old has never lost a championship game and the former Dublin midfielder believes he is getting even better.
“He has two feet. His accuracy is probably, what, 95 per cent when he takes a shot. If he hits a wide you’re going: ‘Jeez, haven’t seen that before’,” Whelan continued.
“He’s on a track to be possibly the best player that ever played the game. The thing is, he has the headspace for it and he has the mentality for it and he has the personality for it. So he has everything.”
The 25th Edition of the JMac Podcast is live! This time I was joined by @RTEgaa Sunday Game pundit & former @DubGAAOfficial footballer, @whelo35 👌 A great chat with one of the legends of the game! This Podcast was sponsored by @OrgaRetro 👌👊👍 https://t.co/6283vvMqLK
— The JMac Podcast (@GAA_Gear) April 21, 2021
The 45-year-old himself struggled to deal with the pressures of inter-county football and not have it impact other areas of his life outside of football.
He feels this is not the case with Fenton, who is able to leave those pressures on the pitch and focus on other areas of life, which has become a massive factor in his success on the field.
“He’s very much able to park the pressures of inter-county football, he’s able to leave them aside and go into that space as required,” Whelan added.
“When I was in there I couldn’t do that, I was a 24/7 man, you were kind of engrossed by the whole thing. It probably affected your form and it affected your personality to a certain degree.
“He’s very much able to park it and leave it over there and I think that’s a huge strength for him and I think that’s why he’s so consistent because he’s able to invest all his positive energy into the actual game itself.”