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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Loss of O'Gara to be felt 'very quickly' by Blues attack

Eoghan O'Gara
Eoghan O'Gara

HE isn't one of the marquee stars in the Dublin football firmament - a Cluxton, Macauley, Connolly, Flynn or Brogan. He wasn't even a guaranteed starter.

But according to Niall Moyna, Blues boss Jim Gavin may struggle to fill the void left by Eoghan O'Gara's season-ending cruciate injury.

"Dublin are going to learn very, very quickly - I think - (about) the loss of Eoghan O'Gara," the DCU manager predicted.

"I think he's undervalued in Dublin, and I think it's only when Eoghan's gone they're really going to realise.

"I doubt if there was a full-back line in the country that wanted to see Eoghan O'Gara coming on. He did so much work, and I'm not 100pc sure how they're going to replace him as the year goes on. Maybe they will find someone, but he's a difficult guy to replace."

ISOLATED

Some commentators view the target man option offered by the likes of O'Gara as the best way of breaching a blanket defence. Moyna isn't convinced that leaving a full-forward "isolated inside" works in that scenario.

However, he still reckons Dublin can only benefit in the long-term from frequent exposure to the type of packed rearguard, a la Tyrone and Derry, that has proven so problematic in recent weeks.

This Sunday, against Moyna's native Monaghan in Clones, Dublin could well be facing more of the same.

"It's a big learning curve," he pointed out. "Jim has a certain way that he wants to play. But sometimes you've got to just bury your pride and say 'Look, we're not going to win if we continue to play the way we were playing' - they were leaving large holes and obviously they've learned an enormous amount.

"I got the impression at the weekend that they were waiting; they expected that Derry could not sustain the game they were playing. And obviously they did tire in the last 15 minutes and spaces began to open up.

"But again with Dublin, if there's an opposition manager, they're going to say that's their Achilles heel - they find it very difficult to break down massed defences."

For 24 minutes of last year's All-Ireland quarter-final, they had struggled to penetrate Monaghan's massed defence - then Diarmuid Connolly goaled and it mutated into a 17-point cakewalk.

TEMPLATE

Moyna suggested that Monaghan "probably showed Donegal the template" before the wheels came off that day.

"I think they'll be hurting a little bit, particularly the way that game petered out last August," he said. "But then Dublin will be looking for as many games (in the league) because of the lack of competitive fixtures in Leinster … both teams will be gunning for it."

With Monaghan on eight points, Dublin on seven, and possibly just one of them advancing to the Division One semi-finals, the stage is set. "Monaghan are obviously more settled. They really know their team," Moyna reflected. "Dublin just don't seem to be where they were last year and the year before, at this stage of the National League. They don't seem to be firing on all cylinders as well as they were then.

"Maybe there is a big game in them. Dublin, when they explode, they can explode."

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