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Bastick isn't getting carried away by talk of titles

By Declan Bogue

The winter of 2011 was a hectic time to be a Dublin footballer. After taking hold of Sam Maguire for the first time since 1995, there was a lot of partying to be done. Their midfielder Eamon Fennell also moonlighted as a DJ and his contacts, along with his own gigs, led to a squad of players out lighting up the city.

Partying and celebrating - the sort of thing that makes you soft and doesn't lend itself to defending your title. As a result, and ahead of tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final with Kerry, Dubs midfielder Denis Bastick reveals that there was "a huge difference" last winter when Sam was captured once again.

"It was all new to us in 2011, but not in 2015. Everybody wanted a piece of us," he explained.

"It was important to do that for the city and the schools and the families. But I think we've moved on from that stage, and so have supporters who have got used to winning a bit more since. We realise that's why it's important to celebrate and do that. You can't take away from your position the following year.

"I think we over-extended ourselves in 2011 and it was very difficult to get back the following year."

With three All-Ireland titles in five years, Dublin are the market leaders in Gaelic football. However, back-to-back titles are rare, and haven't been achieved since Kerry in 2006 and '07, and before that Cork in 1989 and '90.

The 35-year-old Templeogue Synge Street veteran Bastick believes that getting caught up in that thought would be detrimental to the group.

"I think we're all intelligent enough to know that is there. But we're also not foolish enough to focus on that too much," he insisted.

"If you focus on things in the future then you're taking away what's in front of you. So I think that's very important."

The most over-used and abused word in Gaelic games is 'hunger', but it is that indefinable quality that Bastick believes is the difference that prevents a successful title defence.

"If you look at your testing, your strength and fitness tests, there's not any huge difference year on year. So it can't be physical," he added.

"The mental piece of the game, I think that's the extra 10 per cent or whatever the case may be.

"Everyone across the country is doing similar training in similar conditions. It's the mentality then of players who are going to go for the ball that they shouldn't go for.

"Every winter and every year it's a case of coming and ultimately the goal is the same every year. And the goal is to win the Sam Maguire."

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