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All Ireland Football Championship: Massive progress for Dublin

By Micheal McGeary

Only four teams remain in pursuit of the much sought after but elusive Sam Maguire.

By 5pm on Sunday evening that number will be reduced to three, Dublin or Cork having fallen by the wayside.

Of the managers with All Ireland aspirations, Conor Counihan has the most talented side.

But as favourites to lift Sam on the third Sunday in September he’s also under more pressure than the rest.

The bookies make the Rebel county favourites and yet too many questions remain unanswered for my liking.

You can’t help feeling they are only a shadow of last season.

And yet they got off to the best possible start in last season’s All Ireland decider against Kerry only to fall apart.

That final was arugably the most physical and abrasive of recent times and you sense Cork are still feeling sorry for themselves.

Manager Counihan is blessed with a strong squad, but sometimes deciding on his best 15 is his biggest problem.

Nicholas Murphy has looked the part when coming on for Cork and he’s currently one of the best if not the best midfielder left in the Championship.

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy shipped a lot of criticism early in the season especially when his side leaked no fewer than five goals against Meath in the Leimster championship.

Victory over Tyrone might yet prove to be a de fining moment in their season.

“There’s no danger of us getting carried away,” he says.

“Our entire focus now is on getting a result against Cork and we all appreciate just how difficult that’s going to be.”

Gilroy has defied his critics in taking the Dubs from rock bottom to within 70 minutes of an All Ireland final appearance.

He has exceeded all expectations and is arguably in a better position than Counihan despite not having the same quailty of players.

Providing they maintan their current level of progress they will be around for some years to come and that has to be a concern for Cork.

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