Gaelic football is in the eye of a dominant storm. The past, present, and future look blue. Dublin's onslaught persists despite the loss of key players and numerous retirements. A look at the numbers only confirms this commanding reality.
Despite the assertion that this is a golden generation, the average age of the Dublin team has not gone up. The team that secured a six-point victory over Tyrone in the All-Ireland final had an average age of just over 25. The consistent integration of talented underage prospects ensures they never stagnate. Brian Howard and Eoin Murchan are a testament to that.
As the data from Sure, the official statistics partner of the GAA demonstrates, there has also been a general increase in their margin of victory for every All-Ireland, bar one outlier. 2011, 3.7. 2013, 8.2. 2015, 11. 2016, 6.3. 2017, 12.5. 2018, 12.9.
These trends carry over to their gameplay. They won 29/31 kick-outs in the final, they have had a 86% retention rate this season peaking at 93% in the final. The last time they retained less than 50% of their own kick-outs was in the AI final in 2011. Every game since they've won their won kick-outs.
However, there is still hope for rivals. The vast majority of Dublin's regeneration has by in large occurred in their attacking unit. At the back, there has been little change. Of the 1-7 starters in the 2015 All-Ireland Final, just one did not play last Sunday. They are also considerably above the team's average age, at 28.
The replacement riches Dublin enjoy in their forward line does not extend to their defense. The same key figures, Darren Daly and Michael Fitzsimons, are Jim Gavin's go to subs at the back. They have an average age of 30. Combined with the fact neither their minors or U20s got out of Leinster, Jim Gavin will no doubt dedicate significant time to addressing this.
That is not to mention the potential impact should the playing rules committee opt for a rule change from kick-outs. Suggestions that they must pass the '45 would force Dublin into a severe adaption. Currently, only a third of their kick-outs go past the 45.
Dublin are awesome and the fact they are much-touted for a five-in-a-row is sufficient evidence of that, but there is hope for a well-organized and youthful rival to lay down a challenge.
All stats discussed in the article come via GaelicStats.com. Sure is the official statistics partner of the GAA