herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Early league form proved Dubs need stars aligned

Paul Flynn
Paul Flynn

SUCH was the rigid dichotomy in performance between Dublin's big win in Mayo and their successive dullness against Kerry and Tyrone, the temptation is to seek obvious and prominent reasons.

The easy answer, of course, was the return to the starting XV of Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly after absences relating to surgery rehabilitation and club commitments respectively.

"The two of them would be very vocal around the set-up," admitted Kevin McManamon in recent conversation with The Herald.

"There was a bit of spice in training during the week (preceding the Mayo match). Sometimes it just takes a little thing to change things.

"I'm not necessarily sure it was those two but the ball winning from the two of them was very good.

"They just have that dimension in their game that they can just play whatever is in front of them.

priceless

"They're very valuable to us. They're two great fellas."

Valuable? The evidence would suggest nearly priceless.

Not one, but two, half-forwards who have the intuition and effort to find space and the fielding ability to win clean kick-outs.

Both of whom score heavily from long range off either foot, can distribute early, accurately and inventively and for whom zealous effort in defence is a natural occurrence.

At 27 (Connolly) and 28 (Flynn) respectively, both possess immense experience of success and failure and each of whom represents a leadership figure in their dressing-room.

"The confidence has been growing," noted Davey Byrne, the Under 21 captain currently cohabiting both panels.

"And the self-belief - which was always there in the team. But of course, it's good to start getting the wins."

It's just yet more evidence for all the justified talk that Dublin currently possess the strongest panel of players available to the county in verifiable memory, there are some they simply cannot do without.

The early part of the League, particularly that afternoon in Killarney, reinforced the stark fact that Stephen Cluxton's is currently irreplaceable.

Rory O'Carroll is in that bracket too.

rival

"Rory has, I think, cemented his place there very well," said Byrne, arguably his closest rival for the number three jersey.

"But Rory has been very strong there for the last couple of years."

Michael Darragh Macauley too remains utterly unique of style and effect. He has, till now, enjoyed something of a restorative break and the absence of Eoghan O'Gara puts even greater onus on Bernard Brogan's ball-winning skills.

And the evidence thus far indicates Dublin will need all their stars aligned in 2015.

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