Tuesday 25 October 2016

Kevin McStay: Dublin problems still need to be fixed

Midfield and full-back line are below the bench mark

Diarmuid Connolly, Dublin
Diarmuid Connolly, Dublin

THE story of the football championship to date was predictable enough and is in line with the vast majority of pre-championship narratives.

Cork threw a spanner into the works and refused to take their allotted role in the storyline and now Kerry have been afforded a very necessary extra rehearsal to select their best 15, rebalance and reshape their positions and get their heads around the August/September period.

They always seem to get their heads around this period, don't they?

Kerry are more likely to progress through the front door this weekend than they were in the original fixture. Home venue once more in Killarney facilitates and a better team selection will see them through this time.

Kerry will face Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final while Dublin will host Mayo.

Right now it must be said, other than Monaghan having a cut at Donegal and being difficult in a quarter-final scenario, the Big Four will make it to the last four.

Last Sunday Dublin learned a little more about themselves and facing a Westmeath blanket defence that was unable to transition in any shape or form into attack was, I suppose, better than a man-to-man arrangement where they would have won by 20-plus points.

Westmeath more or less allowed Dublin to win all their own kickouts.

To push up and deny Dublin this facility will take a lot of planning, practice and fitness from any opposition but it would be worthwhile on the basis of even a 50 per cent success rate.

Because of Dublin's speed advantage all over the pitch, the ploy of quick restarts allows Dublin reboot at pace, keep the tempo at boiling point and by the final quarter the opposition is close to being on their knees.

What if Stephen Cluxton gets injured? What if the tactic misfires - the opposition are good enough, clued in enough and fit enough to play a high aggressive line and man-mark further back and pray that Cluxton fails to hit all his marks? What then?

The Dublin midfield and full-back lines continue to be a good few percentage points in performance ratings behind the rest of the Dublin team.

Far from purring, their half-lines are playing superbly and covering up for them.

This will need remedy because the big teams are coming into the picture now and all lines will need to be firing if Sam is to spend Christmas in the capital.

I expect Mayo (easily), Kerry (after a struggle) and Donegal (easier than in recent championships) to win out this weekend.

The other teams involved in the qualifiers are simply trying to stay in the race as long as they can to help develop their sides for the 2016 season.

And that is no bad thing - just ask Roscommon, who have lost out on that big opportunity for exposure, experience and a chance to build confidence.


Silence is deafening over Dubs v Armagh incident

SO, in the end, Davy Byrne, victim of an outrageous pre-game assault by an opposition player in a recent challenge game between Dublin and Armagh, did not play in the Leinster final against Westmeath.

Did the Armagh player involved play in their latest championship game? We think so, but it's not confirmed because the 'zipped lips' approach to GAA discipline has kicked in.

As in, not a murmur from any of the principals in Dublin, Armagh and Croke Park.

Is the CCCC actually disbanded or just does not bother with inter-county discipline and concentrates on fixtures instead?

There is talk they have 'reopened' their investigation but we'll see….

Big deal? Let's move on then.

Which is more or less what the following eight parties want us all to do: Davy Byrne (Dublin), the Armagh player involved, Jim Gavin (Dublin manager), Kieran McGeeney (Armagh manager), Dublin GAA officials, Armagh GAA officials, Croke Park officials and a loose enough grouping which we'll just call 'the lads who joined the mill'.

If you wanted an example of why the GAA is often accused of a soft underbelly when it comes to on and off field violence (especially when challenge games are involved), then you need to look no further.

I note also that the referee involved, Fergal Kelly (Longford), who I understand from various reports, failed to mention the incident in his match report, was allowed to referee a championship inter-county game last weekend (Derry v Wexford).

And Croke Park will tell you they can do nothing about the incident if details are not in the referees report?

It is beyond doubt that the referee knows a serious incident took place.

And meanwhile the GAA at official level keeps silent.

I'm beginning to think there was no incident at all and somebody just put out a story. Awful messers out there.

They nearly had us believing something actually happened.

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