By Aaron Dunne
DUBLIN and Kilmacud Crokes football legend Johnny Magee has hailed the emergence of ace forward Cormac Costello as the Whitehall Colmcille star prepares to lead the line in Saturday’s NFL Division 1 semi-final clash with Donegal.
Magee doesn’t believe Dessie Farrell’s men will face as stern a challenge as many believe, with the Ulster side set to kick off their Championship campaign in two weeks’ time. However, the former Wicklow senior boss believes it could be the
perfect opportunity for Costello to really nail his place in the starting team as their Leinster Championship opener creeps slowly into view.
“Dublin have been very impressive, especially in terms of their scoring threat this year. They’ve racked up some big scores this year – 4-9 against Kerry, which is massive, then 2-16 against Galway,” Magee told the Dublin Gazette.
“The form Con O’Callaghan and Cormac Costello are in at the moment is unbelievable.
“Cormac has been around now for the last few years but has really nailed down a starting position now. He’s been by far the top forward consistently this year in the League in my opinion, along with Con. He’s been seriously impressive.”
Despite his obvious class, Costello has found it difficult to break into an All-Star studded Dublin forward line, with the likes of Paul Mannion, Dean Rock and Paddy Andrews all tussling it out for the two corner-forward jerseys.
But with Mannion and Andrews now retired, and Dean Rock absent for the National League campaign, Costello has taken his chance with both hands.
“That’s the quality that he has. He suffered an injury there the year before last and he struggled a bit after that, and I think he’s been quite unfortunate with just the quality of forwards that Dublin have had at their disposal.
“He just hasn’t had the proper opportunity to push his way in until now. But he’s been given his chance now, which is reat to see,” added Magee. “It’s a good headache for Dessie and Mick Galvin and the lads to have for the Championship.
Dublin face Donegal in the semifinal of the League on Saturday in the neutral venue of Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan, but Magee doesn’t believe Farrell’s men will have too much difficulty in securing a place in the final against the winners of Kerry and Tyrone.
“The fact that Donegal are due to play Championship in two weeks’ time, I just can’t see them going all out for this game. If they were to win it, they’d play the following weekend and that’s a week out from their first Championship match against Down. I just can’t see them showing their hand this close to Championship, that’s the way I’d look at it.
“They’ve kicked some big scores, but they’ve conceded some big scores as well. They conceded 1-16 against Armagh, 4-11 against Monaghan and 0-16 points against Tyrone. That’s 5-23 in total. If that’s the kind of scores you’re conceding against those teams, it’s gonna be even worse against Dublin with the form Con and Cormac are in at the moment.
“I just can’t see how they’ll contain that forward line. I’ll be very surprised if Dublin don’t win by six or seven.
“For Dublin players it’s all about fighting for their jersey or holding on to it. Especially the likes of Cormac Costello, who’ll be battling hard to keep that jersey away from Dean Rock.
“His consistency in terms of free taking, and also what he’s chipped in from play, has been massive.”