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Thursday 24 August 2017

Brave Blues wither in face of Rebel onslaught

ON the final hooter in Birr, the Dublin players were distraught. No words could comfort them. But when your opposition gains momentum, and builds up a head of steam, it's a situation very hard to counter.

Cork were a different team in the last 15 minutes. Like great champions, they found salvation, inspiration, from somewhere deep in the mine. Dublin manager, Paul Gilheaney, carried the day's disappointment on his face.

"We just seemed to hit a wall. We just stopped all the good things that we had been doing. It's hard to put a finger on what went wrong," reflected Pablo.

"We were four points up at half-time. We felt maybe we could have been further in front, but, at the same time, I said to the girls that to be leading a team like Cork by four points at half-time is a good place to be.

"They took on board what we said and they responded well by turning that four points advantage into nine points.

"But something then happened after that. Cork just kept coming at us. We couldn't stop them. Even when we brought on subs, we still couldn't prevent them attacking us.

"You can take nothing away from Cork. They are hard to beat. We missed a couple of chances when we were nine points up. If we had got those scores, that could have buried it."

The rain began to fall in Offaly at the throw-in. It was a different scene to July 13th when the Dubs won Leinster on a scorching Saturday in Carlow. "I think the gap is too long. You are nearly being penalised for winning a provincial title. In the build-up to last Saturday, people kept asking me how do we keep things fresh. The players play in the club championship alright, but it's far from ideal when you have no inter-county game for six weeks.

"It's an awkward time of the season to get challenge matches. Perhaps we just weren't match-hardened enough. It's a difficult one to juggle."

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