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Friday 28 April 2017

Inconsistency hurting Dubs

Dublin manager Ger Cunningham looks deep in thought during last Saturday’s NHL Division 1A loss to Waterford in Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin manager Ger Cunningham looks deep in thought during last Saturday’s NHL Division 1A loss to Waterford in Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile

Ger Cunningham only got bits and pieces of a performance against Waterford.

Inevitably then, his team suffered a defeat that was authoritative in its belated delivery.

Still, he brings Dublin to Ennis in a far better frame of collective mind that the one in which they left for Cork.

Eoghan O'Donnell has been a revelation, albeit a tragically unlucky one to concede two goals to Stephen Bennett last Saturday.

Rian McBride has been the best of the newbies, both in terms of his output in Páirc Uí Rinn and Croke Park and the style of physical, aggressive play he brings to Dublin's otherwise pacey, stylish half-forward line.

Rethink

Speaking of which, having looked dangerous to the point of lethal in that first half, mostly off breaking ball from Conor Dooley's puck-outs, that division evaporated as a source of scores after half-time against Waterford.

Eamonn Dillon looked like he might score seven or eight points only for half-time and a rethink from Derek McGrath to intervene and never did Dublin look more bereft of ball-winners than when Shane Fives, Tadhg De Burca and Austin Gleeson began to pluck sliothars out of the sky thereafter.

And it wasn't just that Waterford's backs got on top and stopped all that ball before it broke. It was that Dublin didn't appear to have a second plan of attack.

Similarly, they didn't absorb Waterford's second goal well.

Conor Dooley made the mistake but almost everybody in a blue jersey seemed to take it as a sign that what most had expected would happen was about to happen.

All in all then, a pretty inevitable consequence of such an inexperienced team.

Stylistically, this could be an interesting game.

When Clare did hurt Tipp last week in Thurles, the blows came from further out than their inside forward line.

Expected a crowded middle in Ennis tomorrow.

Podge Collins and John Conlon each maximised on the momentarily-unoccupied pockets of space their perpetual motion created against Tipp, though the arrival of Ian Galvin gave them something different/

Galvin, brother of 2013 All-Ireland winner Colm, has been out for a year with a cruciate ligament injury but this week, Tony Kelly called him "a serious, serious operator".

It's not hard to see why.

With Shane O'Donnell out for at least the next six weeks, Clare need a forward of precisely Galvin's stylings to feed off the ball Conlon and Aaron Shanagher will inevitably win.

Cunningham has bemoaned inconsistency for the past three years but in their current guise, Dublin are far more prone to it than ever.

And not that Clare have all their 'ducks in-a-row' at the moment, they just have more of their better ducks available to them.

ODDS: Clare 4/9, Draw 10/1, Dublin 2/1

VERDICT: Clare

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