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Saturday 3 December 2016

Dublin left stuck in the mud

Quick reaction required against Galway next weekend or relegation fight beckons

Dublin’s Darragh O’Connell in action against Liam Ryan of Tipperary during the Allianz Hurling League, Division 1A match at Semple Stadium Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Darragh O’Connell in action against Liam Ryan of Tipperary during the Allianz Hurling League, Division 1A match at Semple Stadium Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin hurling manager Ger Cunningham at Semple Stadium on Saturday Photo: Sportsfile

In the circumstances, it didn't seem unreasonable to ask Ger Cunningham whether he was shocked by his team's performance on Saturday night on that squelchy swampland in Thurles where Tom Semple's field usually sits.

"Shocked? No. No.

"More...disappointed."

Which, as any scolded teenager knows, can be a more a more psychologically torturous reaction than a straight-up old-fashioned scolding.

Get tanked, as Dublin so spectacularly did by Tipperary on Saturday night and take a hot blast of the hairdryer and at least players know where they stand with regard to future selection.

Now?

You couldn't be sure of any Dublin player next week.

We asked Cunningham, too, what he had said just prior to emerging from that Dublin dressing-room at the end of the corridor under the Kinnane Stand in Semple Stadium.

Emotions

"On a night like tonight, you could let your emotions run high," he acknowledged.

"Players' especially, their heads could be spinning after a performance and after losing a game like that. Maybe ours as well.

"Maybe we need to reflect on it ourselves, as to what happened and why was played so disappointingly.

"It might be best to hold tough for a day or two and then discuss it during the week."

First, for what it's worth; the mitigation.

In Thurles on Saturday night, an ability to dig spuds might have been roughly as useful as an ability to hurl, such was the boggy consistency of the turf.

Against that, Tipp had to hurl on the same surface and managed it just fine.

Secondly, to glance at the Dublin team in the official match programme was to be dazed by a beam of almost disarming youth, though this is the new path Ger Cunningham has chosen and more to the point, he wasn't holding anything better in reserve.

Tipp, meanwhile, strode into a new season with the attitude of a team who know their only measure of success will be whether they can turn their 2015 status of a last four team into a last two side.

But it was a reflection of the evening that their main sniper, Jason Forde, scored all but a point of his 1-5 through doing nothing more physically taxing than simply sweeping up loose ball around the Dublin half-back line and nothing more technically demanding than slotting points from the same close range from which his team mates managed to shoot 10 first half wides.

Dublin weren't at the races. They didn't even know where the track was.

Which, given they wiped Wexford in Croke Park like they were irrelevance two weeks back, ranked as somewhat curious.

In possession, they botched passes, dropped shots short and failed, over the course of 77 minutes, to create a single credible goal chance.

Late on, their route one plan was easily swept up by the ever tidy and always classy Michael Cahill and Cathal Barrett in the Tipperary corner-back slots.

"Just the things that we've been trying to do didn't work out tonight," Cunningham shrugged, stating the obvious but bereft of immediate explanation.

Serious

"So we've got to go back to the training ground and work on it and see if we can get ready for next week."

Anything less than a win in Parnell Park against Galway next Saturday and they'll be favourites for relegation.

"We have to rebound. We're not going to lie down and we're not going to hide away," Cunningham stressed.

"We lost two League points but we have two more to play for next Saturday night and we'll have to rebound."

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