Kevin McManamon is in no doubt that the emergence of young talent has revitalised the Dublin squad this year.
The St Jude’s player – now in his fourth year on the panel – was speaking to RTÉ Sport ahead of Sunday’s Allianz Football League semi-final against Mayo at Croke Park.
After their All-Ireland triumph in 2011, the Dubs were somewhat “flat” last year, but the arrival of Jim Gavin and his management team has, according to McManamon, instilled a renewed belief, while giving the side a greater freedom to express themselves.
He explained: “The main thing Jim has brought is freshness. There are a lot of new bodies in. Some of the guys at the later end of their career decided to retire and go back to their clubs. The newer lads have won two under-21 All-Irelands.
“They are the ones driving it on at the minute. Those guys that have been around for a few years are trying to catch up with them. There’s a different way of doing things. It’s been going well so far.
“Being able to express yourself was one of the things that the management wanted to do with us.
"They can only train you so hard but once you get out of the pitch you are the guys that have to score and have to unlock defences so they give you that bit of freedom of expression to go out and play and encourage you to express yourself on the pitch and that’s what some of the lads have done.
“A lot of the younger guys who’ve come in have no fear and it’s great to have that in a panel as well as on the starting XV."
A lot of the younger guys who’ve come in have no fear and it’s great to have that in a panel" - Kevin McManamon
Overall McManamon has been happy with the way the side has performed this spring en route the league semi-final and another meeting with James Horan’s side.
“What we were looking at was to get a system of play and that’s what we’ve done. Get a few good performances; we’ve done that as well. We weren’t happy the day we played Tyrone.
"It was our only loss but we’re in what I’d like to call 'bonus' territory. We’ve got five wins, seven great games.
“Last year we spent April training. We’d eight weeks off before the Championship. It was a long eight weeks – we were gagging for games.
"Hopefully, we’ll have two games at least in April if we can manage to beat Mayo.”
However the Championship is the real target for Dublin, though McManamon would welcome a first league medal.
“We’ve been eyeing up Carlow or Westmeath on the June Bank Holiday weekend since we started training just before Christmas.
"League titles aren’t what Dublin are about at the minute. I’d love to get one; it’s something that I’ve never won.
“I can remember losing to Cork here in 2011 so it’s not something that we’ve explicitly expressed that we want to win but it would be great to get two out of two in April and take home a national league.”
As for Sunday’s opponents, there is much respect for the men from the west.
“They seemed to be getting better as the league went on. I think they’ll be ready for us this weekend, they’ll be gunning. James Horan has done a great job, they seem to be in good nick.
"They have a unique system of play and it’s difficult to play against. We found it difficult in the league match here under lights.
“That match could have gone either way. We pulled a small bit in the end. It will be an interesting game on Sunday, I know that much.”