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November 9 2017 2:30 AM
There are no Dublin players on Ireland's International Rules squad in Australia but the All-Ireland champions aren't being forgotten by the representatives from the other counties as they prepare for Saturday's first Test in Adelaide.
It's not that discussions on whether Dublin will be unseated next season tops the agenda when the Irish squad mix away from the training ground but there's an underlying feeling that the bar has been set very high and must be reached if the blue spell is to be broken.
Mayo have come close repeatedly but haven't completed the task; Kerry beat Dublin in this year's league final but were ambushed on the way to the All-Ireland final, leaving them wondering what might have been.
Tyrone, who drew with Dublin in the league, were flagged as very serious opposition for the champions in the All-Ireland semi-final but were obliterated early on.
And then there's Cork and the case of collapsed confidence which has seen them cast adrift from the leading contenders in recent seasons.
The general view after their All-Ireland win in 2010 was that they would build on the success but it didn't happen.
The decline was initially gradual but gathered pace in recent seasons, leaving them heading into 2018 without even a Munster title for six years.
Managerial turnover has accelerated rapidly (Brian Cuthbert and Peadar Healy each lasted only two years) in a county with a history of long stewardships. The latter has been replaced by Ronan McCarthy, who will begin his term in Division 2 after Cork failed to win promotion this year. The lack of confidence among Cork supporters about the future is understandable but defender Eoin Cadogan disputes the view that the landscape is all bleak on Leeside.
He accepts that Cork have underachieved in recent years but argues that they are not as far off the leaders as is being suggested.
"Our performances haven't matched the amount of work that's gone in. There's nothing we can do about it now but we can do something about 2018.
"There can be only one winner (All-Ireland) at the end of any year so in that respect we're no different to the others who lost along the way," said Cadogan.
He is looking forward to working under McCarthy, a club-mate in Douglas, next year and is confident that there will be an upturn in Cork's fortunes.
First, though, he's concentrating on the International Rules series, where his defensive craft and experience will be crucial for Ireland.
He believes that playing the mixed game is very helpful for all the players involved as it presents a different type of challenge.
"From a defender's point of view you get only one chance in International Rules. If you're not close enough to your man and he catches the ball, it's a score (a player making a mark gets a free-kick).
"In our game, when a guy gets the ball, you have to back yourself. You still have a chance to recover and get in a tackle," said Cadogan.
He loves the International Rules tackle, where a player can be dragged to the ground as it encourages quick movement of the ball and leaves no room for different interpretations.
"There's a clear definition of what a tackle is, whereas it can vary in our game depending on the referee," he said.
Another advantage of the Australian-type tackle is that it demands quick hands to get rid of the ball before the challenge comes in. Cadogan believes that it makes for a more instinctive approach.
"You can see how the modern game (football) has gone - there's a huge amount of structure, positioning and all that. Defensive structures can become ingrained in you, whereas in this game, you have to make decisions all the time because if your opponent makes a catch close to goal, a score will follow.
"And when you make a mark, you have to make a very quick decision on what's the right call. The last seven or eight weeks have been brilliant in that sense. You're on guys like Michael Murphy and Aidan O'Shea, which is great because you know you're going to have to be ready for them next year."
Cadogan has played through a period of great change in Gaelic football, some of which he applauds, but more of which he is sceptical about.
"You'd wonder if players are worrying too much about making mistakes, rather than playing off the cuff.
"I was watching the 2005 Ulster final (Armagh v Tyrone) on TV recently - there was serious football played in that game. It had huge amount of kick-passing.
"People might say that defensive football was brought in around then but that was a cracking game, really good footballers going at it. It made for a real spectacle," said Cadogan.