Dublin players celebrating their five-in-a-row success last year.

Lack of crowd in Croke Park could work against six-in-a-row chasers Dublin - Donaghy

The 2020 inter-county championships will be played behind closed doors due to Covid-19.

KIERAN DONAGHY SAYS that the absence of a crowd in Croke Park could go against the Dublin footballers this year in their bid to create more history by completing a six-in-a-row.

The impact of Covid-19 has forced the GAA to delay the start of the hurling and football championships, with the recent introduction of Level 3 restrictions meaning that the inter-county games will be played behind closed doors.

Dessie Farrell’s charges face into their Leinster SFC campaign on the back of some big losses in the squad. Bernard Brogan, Eoghan O’Gara and Darren Daly have all retired from the inter-county game while regular starter Jack McCaffrey has decided to withdraw from the panel for the rest of the 2020 season.

This will also be their first championship campaign without Jim Gavin, as the players contiue to adjust to the new Farrell order.

Donaghy argues that Dublin are equipped to deal with losing big characters from their dressing room, and that such setbacks in the past “never seemed to flutter them”.

But he fears that an empty stadium in Croke Park could make them more vulnerable, as they prepare to play without the vital energy they typically get from their supporters.

One thing that might go against them this year is that lack of crowd in Croke Park and it’s certainly.

“If you look at any of the American sports, when you go to any of the Game 7s and the big knockout games that teams have to win, generally when they’re at home they pull them out of the bag and when Dublin are in Croke Park, you could probably count seven or eight games where they’ve been level going into injury time, they’ve always managed a way to figure it out.

sky-sports-gaa-championship-launch Kerry football hero Kieran Donaghy. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“Their collective spirit, their team work, their decision making were all key factors in that. But I also think the key component was that crowd driving the team home and putting pressure on the opponents that were in Croke Park.” 

Since his retirement from the Kerry team in 2018, Donaghy has started working with the IT Tralee Sigerson Cup team while also continuing to play for his club Austin Stacks.

He enjoyed his first campaign as joint manager of the Kerry college outfit, mentoring some quality football talent including David Cifford and Tony Brosnan.

In a year where the club game got some much deserved recognition and attention, Donaghy also helped his club to retain their Kerry senior club title.

“It made me realise what I missed for the 15 or 16 years that I was with Kerry,” he says.

“It’s hard for county lads because they’re coming back in and there’s a team that’s after playing without them all year. 

“Especially in my role, [it's] a specialised position being the target forward. When I wasn’t there, we didn’t have another target guy that we were playing in that position. The team would be playing probably a lot differently. And then I would come back in and the management would have to figure out a way to get me in. 

We’re back-to-back club champions after beating Kenmare this year so look, it was another good year for the club, more trophies. But obviously missed out on the ultimate county championship prize with East Kerry proving to be the best in the business down here.

“But I thoroughly enjoyed it, never missed a session.” 

Kieran Donaghy was speaking at the launch of Sky Sports’ Championship coverage. 

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