By Rory Houston - @RTEGAA
Kevin McManamon believes the Allianz League has been the basis for Dublin’s success as they get set to meet Kerry in their first match in Division 1 on Saturday at Croke Park.
The St Judes forward helped the Dubs end a long wait for All-Ireland glory by beating the Kingdom last year after losing the league final to Cork earlier in the year.
He told RTÉ’s Brian Carthy: “It probably has been the springboard for our success over the last two years. It is absolutely perfect to get game plans in place and get lads up to Championship pace. I think it is very important.”
The clash with the Kingdom promises to be another close and fascinating encounter, albeit in the first week of spring when both sides will be far from firing on all cylinders.
But the Dublin front man feels Kerry will be intent on revenge for the heartbreak of last September.
He said: “I know Kerry will have ear-marked it for the last couple of months trying to beat us and trying to get some revenge for All-Ireland final day. It should be an exciting, tense game. We’ve tried to park 2011 and really put a big focus on trying to get a good start to the league.
“I remember us heading out last year to play Cork, the All-Ireland champions at the time, and the amount of effort we put in to try to beat them. I’m sure Kerry will be trying to do the same. It would take away a small bit of the pain from last year if they were come around beat us this time around.”
Manager Pat Gilroy has implored the early-morning training regime again this year with McManamon admitting it is a welcome return to normality after the joy of winning the Sam Maguire.
He has set a target of playing an ever bigger role in Dublin’s season this time around.
“We did a lot of celebrating in the couple of months before it (the return to training). It is nice to be back and feeling fit again. It is well documented we did a lot of training and some of the early morning stuff out on the pitch. I suppose it frightens you into getting the year going again!
“It is all about, in my head, taking it to the next level. I’m hoping to start every game I suppose. When it comes to Championship. I’m hoping to have a bigger impact from the start. I’d like to start and finish as many Championship games as I can.”