herald

Monday 5 December 2016

No time for rest - Sky Blues go straight back into battle with Saffron

Dublin v Antrim, St Clare's DCU, tomorrow 2pm

Dublin's Eamonn Dillon (SPORTSFILE)
Dublin's Eamonn Dillon (SPORTSFILE)

No shortage of green and white flags from the stickmen in Sky Blue at Belfield. And no time to rest on their laurels either.

Dublin's off-season, coming after a deflating 2015, had been filled with too many column inches for their liking, what with an unlikely fracas on foreign fields, high-profile defections, spats aired in public.

Even though hurling in the first week of January may seem like sacrilege to some, they needed to get back on the pitch and they did so on Thursday night.

It was scratchy at times, but the Dubs ultimately came good to run out 4-15 to 3-12 winners over their UCD hosts.

Perfectionist

The perfectionist in Ger Cunningham won't be best pleased with the concession of a first half hat-trick to Oisín O'Rorke ... the glass-half-full interpretation is that UCD's chief marksman also happens to be a Dublin panellist, so his form can only be construed as a positive.

He wasn't the only forward to display a lust for goals on a heavy pitch: Paul Ryan and Eamonn Dillon each bagged a brace, with the form of Dillon and Niall McMorrow offering plenty of encouragement.

The down-side is that Dublin have less less than three days to recover for tomorrow's home clash with Antrim, although Cunningham is sure to juggle his resources accordingly, giving game time to as many players as possible.

Antrim should be more rested (their opening match was against Laois last Saturday) but their hopes of Walsh Cup progression are balanced on a knife-edge after losing that day by 3-17 to 1-19.

Beacon

Still, there were flashes of encouragement for new Antrim boss PJ O'Mullan, even in defeat. Conor Johnston was the brightest beacon of all, scoring 1-6 from play. Liam Watson marked his return from the inter-county wilderness with a more prosaic four converted frees.

For Dublin, the permutations are relatively clearcut: overcome Antrim and they will probably be facing into a last-day shootout with Laois, in Rathdowney, to decide who tops the group and advances to the semi-final.

VERDICT: Dublin

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