Dubs need win to reboot
DUBLIN V GALWAY
FIRST the bad news. As results of last week's Division 1A games fell, the relegation picture is quite clear and uncomplicated and Dublin, while not quite central characters, are lingering in the background with a worried expression on their faces.
It would be Kilkenny - and most likely in Nowlan Park too - that they would face in the loser-loses-all tie next weekend, a Kilkenny team likely propped up by the return of a half dozen or so Ballyhale Shamrocks players.
As preparations for summer go, that could hardly be filed under 'ideal'.
Particularly given the fact that Dublin would have to lose four games in succession (Cork, Clare, Galway tomorrow and Kilkenny next week) were they to go down.
At which point, all that goodness gleaned from beating Tipperary and the Cats in the first two rounds of spring would be eroded entirely.
If that scenario is bleak, the good news for Dublin is that they can avoid all that by beating or drawing with Galway in Parnell Park tomorrow.
In fact, they can lose too and still make the quarter-finals of the League provided Clare don't win in Nowlan Park but three losses in succession wouldn't exactly represent a good sequence of form in the preamble to summer.
Of course they could win tomorrow, heeding some of the lessons learned in Croke Park and Ennis and no-one would ever speak of either loss again.
Remember, last year Dublin lost by 13 points to Galway in the first round of the League in an awful display yet a week later, beat Clare - then defending All-Ireland champions - by six.
They were flat and hallow in losing by Waterford by three points in Walsh Park the very next month, yet beat Kilkenny beat six just six days later.
The common factor?
It's 2011 since Dublin were beaten in at the venue - by Galway, as it happens - and if the Spring Series has dictated they haven't played there as much as they might have liked, it should provide comfort tomorrow.
Their most recent performance won't.
Ger Cunningham put that collapse in Cusack Park down to Clare winning six or seven second-half puck outs on the trot, thus snatching momentum but when Dublin did have the ball, their use of it was poor where previously, it had been measured and confident.
Jonathan Glynn gave Peter Kelly plenty of it in the Walsh Cup final.
Galway have also added Joe Canning to their attacking mix. And while their progression is assured, the loss at home to Cork a week ago, coupled with the fact that they face Dublin in Leinster and, it almost goes without saying, the mutual antipathy that flows between the teams, should ensure if Dublin are to get the win they need, they'll have earned it.