Spring fate rests in Dublin's own hands
ON the day Dublin beat Tipperary in Parnell Park in Ger Cunningham's first League game as manager, it was put to him that the 2-20 his team had tucked by their esteemed but quite obviously listless opponents might just come in handy come calculator time at the competition's end.
"I wouldn't be thinking of that really," the Corkman shrugged.
"The two points is all we'd be thinking about."
His indifference to the pluses and minuses was wholly understandable.
Dublin had hit the ground sprinting and in doing so, put a blotchy performance in the Walsh Cup final against Galway behind them by destroying last year's September bridesmaids.
Yet last Saturday in Ennis, he referenced Dublin's scoring differential without prompt.
Noting how his team "stuck in there," at the end of a bad defeat, Cunningham added: "If this comes down to scoring difference, it was only two points. We're still in the positive."
As it happens, Sunday's results all ran Dublin's way too, meaning a win or draw against Galway in Parnell Park next Sunday and a quarter-final place is assured.
Indeed, the only combination of results from Donnycarney and Nowlan Park - where Kilkenny play Clare next Sunday - that could conspire to dispatch Dublin to a second relegation play-off in successive years is a defeat to Galway and a win for Davy Fitzgerald's team.
In that scenario, Dublin would face Kilkenny in one-off loser-goes-down match.
"We've four played. We've won two. We're in a situation where we're still in control of what we can do," noted Cunningham, who will be without Michael Carton next week after he suffered an ankle injury in Cusack Park.
"If we go out and get a performance next Sunday in Parnell Park, that gets us into a quarter-final and at the start of the year, that was an aim for us.
"It's still the aim. And it's still in our control."