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If you think Dubs are better players than you, GIVE UP; GAELIC GAMES; McMANUS: IT'S TIME TO TAKE FIGHT TO CHAMPS.

Byline: PAUL KEANE

MONAGHAN attacker Conor McManus says it's time for Ulster's top teams to rip up the script and realise you can't beat Dublin playing defensively.

Mayo, Kildare and Kerry all proved this year that you can get to Dublin by pushing up on them and committing more to attack.

As for Monaghan and Tyrone, their counter attacking systems were easily picked apart by the Dubs on their way to the three-in-a-row (below).

Former Monaghan captain McManus pulled no punches when insisting that his county need to adapt their game plan if they're to stand any chance of reeling in the Sky Blues.

He said: "I genuinely don't believe you can beat Dublin playing a defensive system because they're so comfortable in that environment.

"If you go out and play man-to-man and play them toe-to-toe, who knows where it's going to take you - you're not going to beat them doing anything else.

"You ask any footballer in any county, in any province, particularly the top 10 teams in the country, 'is he (in Dublin) a better footballer than you?' If he says 'yes' to you then I don't think he has much business being there. And I don't think too many of them will.

"If players really apply themselves to that, and go at it, there's a lot to be said for it."

Kerry beat Dublin in a highpaced and attack minded League final, racking up 20 points, while Kildare and Mayo scored 1-17 and 1-16 in finals this year with similar approaches.

As for Monaghan and Tyrone, they sat back in All-Ireland quarter-final and semi-final ties and hoped to hit Dublin on the break, with disastrous consequences.

McManus, signalling a clear shift in Monaghan's approach for 2018, said: "There was one score they got against us where they kept the ball for maybe one and a half, two minutes, and that was us with 13, maybe 14 men behind the ball. I think there's a lesson there for us and everybody.

"If you look at how they dealt with us and Tyrone, and how compact Tyrone were all year, it shows how good Dublin have become at playing that game.

"When you flip that to the All-Ireland final and you saw how Mayo went toe-to-toe with them, man-forman, and pushed right up and caused them problems, there's probably a lesson in that."

The problem for Ulster teams with All-Ireland ambitions is that they're locked into a provincial competition where defences dominate. So if Monaghan go for broke against Tyrone in next summer's Ulster SFC opener, they could be playing into the hands of their counter-attacking rivals.

"I'm not naive enough to pretend that things are just going to move away from all defensive styles but I imagine there will be some sort of shift towards a more attacking mindset."

irishsport@trinitymirror.com

a When you saw how Mayo went toe-to-toe.. there's a lesson in it.. frown under McManus was this week unveiled as Irish vice captain for Rules series in Oz next month

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Oct 27, 2017
Words:505
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